The Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has reportedly asked the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) to return to the negotiation table and be part of the Lekgotla yearly meetings as he tried to meet some of the demands the organization has brought to his office.
This as the two offices try to talk things out after a fall out last year in the run-up to the then much talked about national Taxi Lekgotla. The NTA pulled out of the event after it accused Mbalula and his office of preferential treatment – putting the South African National Taxi Alliance (Santaco ) above the NTA even though the organization thinks it is in the same league with Santaco. But the big blow for the NTA came amid reports that Mohane Francis Masitse, NTA president and national chairperson, had been denied an opportunity to address delegates like Phillip Taaibosch, Santaco president.
A source within the taxi industry who is an influential figure in a provincial structure of the NTA, has confirmed that Mbalula has responded to the demands from the organization such as the release of the R3.1-billion taxi industry Covid -19 relief fund and compensation for inter-provincial taxis doing cross-provincial trips that have been running at 70% loading capacity since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.
“The top guys in head office may not want to tell you about Mbalula’s positive response but that is the situation at the moment and we are looking forward to hearing more from him,” said the source.
Mbalula has also reportedly promised to compensate the taxi owners doing the interprovincial trips for loss as they have been working at mostly 70% loading capacity and would ensure such funds be made available at an appropriate time.
“He has committed to making sure that taxis doing cross border provincial trips be compensated as he has readily admitted that they have been running at a big loss. Remember that everything has gone up and the costs of buying parts are just way too high,” added the source.
Theo Malele is the NTA national spokesperson. He refused to confirm if such correspondence from Mbalula has reached the NTA. He said they were still waiting for an official response to their demands handed to the minister’s office in November last year.
“We are still waiting for the minister to give us clarity of some certain issues that are important in this regard. There is a possibility that we may get an answer soon when the office reopens for the new year,” said Malele.
The NTA has over the better part of 2020 been engaging with Mbalula on many issues affecting the minibus taxi industry before pulling out of the Lekgotla.