The two main taxi associations from the Alexandra township, east of Johannesburg, are yet to be fully satisfied with latest developments regarding the loading capacity of the minibus taxi industry announced just recently by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
The two associations were at the centre of a storm in Gauteng two months ago when they announced a staggering 172% taxi fare before the intervention by the Gauteng provincial structure of the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO). Taxi fares have since increased by between R4 to R7 for local trips and between R7 to R12 for inter-town trips. Speaking about the latest 100% loading capacity for local trips announced by Minister Mbalula just weeks ago, the two taxi bodies believe that their persistent drive for attention to the plight of the taxi operators across the country finally paid off.
Xolani Ximba and Motlanalo Tsebe, public relation officers for the Alexandra Taxi Associations (ATA) and the Alexandra Randburg Midrand Sandton Taxi Association (ARMSTA), respectively, agreed that the 100% loading capacity, although has made some significant changes to the financial flows to taxi operators – has only started to make some slight positive changes but would take some time before taxi owners realize the recovery they hope for.
“Look, although a lot of passengers and people in general are not yet back to their work places and jobs, it is just better to be back working on local trips,’ said Ximba.
He, however, said that inter-provincial trips that have been capped at 70% loading capacity have not made any changes to taxi operators business lives.
“We are still losing here at inter-provincial but we know that the national leadership and their provincial teams are engaging with government on that. We just cross our fingers that things will get back to normal,” said Ximba. Tsebe has echoed Ximba’s views, adding that the 100% loading capacity had brought some changes and has boosted the local taxi operators financial cash injections.
“We are happy with the 100% local loading announcement. For now a lot of our focus is on the local taxi operations because, when a taxi is full we are all happy,” said Tsebe. He too believe that the long distance trips is still going to be a big issue among all stakeholders with taxi operators unhappy with the 70% loading capacity.
“We have asked our top leadership to engage with authorities on our behalf,” said Tsebe.
Both ATA and ARMSTA believe that the R1.3-billion rand COVID-19 taxi relief fund that the taxi industry felt was not enough to cover their costs and whose accessibility was accompanied by too stringent conditions should not be left to die.
“There is just a defeaning silence on the matter after the announcement on the latest developments on 100% and 70% for both local and inter-provincial trips. Everything now rotates around on these issues,” said Ximba.
“Ever since the announcement that we reject around SARS overseeing the relief fund we have not heard anything and it is worrying,” said Tsebe.