Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula. Picture: SEBABATSO MOSAMO
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula. Picture: SEBABATSO MOSAMO

The government’s approach to resolving the impasse around professionalising the taxi industry is not bearing fruit. The problem is that every time there’s a new transport minister, a new plan is hatched.

The taxi recapitalisation programme, launched in 2006, was supposed to entail the scrapping of old minibus taxis for new ones, to enhance safety and efficiency. Later, the revised taxi recapitalisation programme was launched under then transport minister Blade Nzimande. It included the aim of professionalising the industry and securing its entire value chain.

What’s overlooked is the disjuncture between taxi operators and drivers. While the drivers aren’t unionised, taxi operators are organised in taxi associations. The government always negotiates with the associations, to the exclusion of the drivers who’re at the coal face of delivery.

If any programme is to work, it must focus on defined timelines and achievable targets, not the personalities or programmes of particular ministers. Ministers come and go, but the government’s programme must continue.

The current impasse gives the government a chance to engage with all stakeholders, including owners, drivers and commuter associations. We call upon the government to seize the moment and ensure this multibillion-rand industry is transformed, commercialised and professionalised so it can help propel our economic growth.

Mafika Siphiwe Mgcina
ANC Sedibeng task team (writing in his personal capacity)