Minibus taxis are checked at a roadblock in Mamelodi. Picture: SOWETAN
Minibus taxis are checked at a roadblock in Mamelodi. Picture: SOWETAN

A reckoning with the taxi industry is long past due; we hope that this week’s strike may finally prompt some real change. After all, these are the people who ferry the majority of South Africans to work.

While we condemn the thuggishness that is rife in the sector, as well as lamentable driving and safety standards, it is a far more legitimate beneficiary of state support than, for example, SAA.

The state has essentially left it up to private operators to get South Africans around — which, despite the issues listed above, they do remarkably efficiently.

The government has for too long washed its hands of its responsibility to deal properly with the legacy of apartheid spatial planning. About 30% of an average worker’s wages are spent on getting to work and back. In Cape Town, a survey last year put that figure at 43%. There is a strong case for some form of subsidy.

As for the assertion that taxi operators do not pay tax — for every rand spent on a tank of fuel, 44.5% goes to the fiscus.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula is right to say subsidies "cannot come without formalisation and formalisation will come with conditionality." Well then, properly apply state funds to such a plan. In return, taxi bosses must accept that such strictures are overdue, and are to the benefit of society as a whole, not just their own narrow interests.

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