Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has laid down his department’s blueprint for the minibus taxi industry for the first time that glaringly contain some of the things he has been saying about the sector.
Contained in the Revised Annual Performance Plan for 2020/2021, the department listed a number of measures that it plans to put in place to ensure that taxis become an important role player in driving the economy forward. It is in this background that Mbalula insists that the taxi industry should be part of a “public transport funding model that levels the playing field by including taxi participation and enabling effective regulated competition.”
Mbalula and the department want taxi operators to enjoy direct investments through government-driven Taxi Recapitalization Programme (TRP) and through the roll-out of the Integrated Public Transport Networks (IPTN) by forming taxi co-operatives ‘ as an empowerment model of choice.” A one- solution ticketing integrated system across road and rail systems has been touted for the future.
On the Taxi Recapitalization Programme, the department says that by 2018 the process has seen 72 653 of the envisaged 135 894 minibus taxis being scrapped before the Revised Taxi Recapitalisation Programme (RTRP) of 2019 that saw the scrapping fee jumping from R91000 to R124 000 for an old taxi.
Speaking about the envisaged benefits that could open up in the industry, the department said the commercialization fruits that include, among others, affordable supply of new taxi vehicles, finance, short-term insurance, spare parts, repairs, fuel, lubricants, electronic fare collections and property management.
Last year, Mbalula had numerous interactions with various stakeholders within the taxi industry but at the same time using strong language to drive home some points.
“The taxi industry is what I call the sunset clause industry. It is an untapped sector with a lot to offer the economy of the country. Many in the industry believe that it makes over a billion in revenues annually but that is not realized in real financial terms to taxi operators,” said Mbalula.
Among some of the plans, the government has put in place for the industry include integrating it in the mainstream government-backed transport system in the same mould as some state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such as Eskom, Prasa, Denel, and Transnet – to mention but just a few.