No taxi fare increase for commuters

MEC for Transport, Bonginkosi Madikizela praised the taxi bosses for not increasing taxi fares.

The provincial leadership of the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) has promised commuters that they won’t be increasing their taxi fares any time soon.

This comes after many taxi associations across the country announced they would be increasing taxi fares as owners and drivers battle to make an income under the Covid-19 restrictions. The industry has suffered a major loss of income during the national lockdown as they had been instructed that they could only transport 70 percent of their capacity.

Santaco spokesperson, Nazeem Abdurahman, said they felt that they should not increase taxi fares as commuters were also feeling the pinch.

He said they were transporting the poorest of the poor and increasing the fares would put an extra burden on their commuters. “We care about our commuters. We have pleaded with taxi associations and they have listened. It is tough times for all of us,” he said.

“We would like the government to allow us to transport 100% capacity for taxis that travel locally as long as everyone has a mask.

“On long distance travelling, we can therefore apply the 70% capacity rule. We are hoping that the government can allow us that and we are currently engaging them,” he said.

During a visit to Site C taxi rank in Khayelitsha on Monday June 22, Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela expressed his sincere gratitude to the leadership of Santaco in the province, saying they have shown that they care about commuters.

He said if you increase taxi fares at a time like this, the people who would bear the brunt are the commuters.

However, he said, there were other outstanding issues that they needed to resolve. Among the many issues raised by taxi bosses, he said, was the challenge of obtaining operating permits.

Of the R1 billion bailout government has offered the taxi industry to help soften the blow of the lockdown, Mr Abdurahman said it was not nearly enough and that they were not happy about the regulations which govern access to the funds.

Mr Madikizela, however, said the money was never meant to compensate taxi operators for their losses.

”I think the money was a gesture of goodwill from the national minister. But we believe that there are more sustainable ways to deal with their loss,” he said.

He said one of the proposals they have made is to look at restructuring a number of grants they have as the department and to see how they could be utilised to assist them.

Taxi driver, Lwazi Ngxambuza, said before lockdown they used to earn about R1 800 a week but this had now dipped to R600.

He echoed the call for government to allow taxis to operate at 100% carrying capacity.