The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) says it is dismayed and disappointed by what it terms the failure of  government to resolve issues raised by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

On Sunday, the association announced that operators will load to full capacity, contravening government’s regulations for taxis to load only at 70 percent capacity.

In the video below, Santaco announces that all its taxis will operate at full capacity : 

The association says the regulations are making it difficult for the sector to continue operating. It says owners are unable to make a profit and pay their monthly installments to banks.

Numsa says the sector needs more support from the government to continue operating.

“The taxi industry has estimated that it needs, from government, no less than R20 000 per taxi, for most of its operators to survive. Anyone with the least knowledge of the cut-throat competition in this industry will have no problem accepting that the government’s necessary stringent lockdown regulations and continuing passenger load regulation of 70% will cause this sector to collapse,” says the union in a statement.

Government engaging with the sector 

Two weeks ago the government announced that it has set aside R1.135 billion to help taxi owners and operators deal with the impact of the coronavirus. Yesterday, Minister Fikile Mbalula said that they have met with Santaco and the National Taxi Association regarding the challenges that the industry is facing.

Numsa has raised concerns over the transformation in the industry.

“This sector remains thoroughly untransformed, informal, and inferior in comparison to other transport modes. It continues to be unsupported by the government and is confined to operating in the low wage economy populated by the African and Black majority of the working class. “

Safety of commuters 

Numsa calls on government to consider the safety of the working class who use taxis to commute to work.

“ We reject, with the contempt it deserves, the argument that workers’ lives must be placed in danger because the ANC government must pursue austerity measures against workers in order to protect the financial wealth of South African White Monopoly Capital and its international backers. Our members who are largely dependent on the taxi industry for transport demand that the government must meet the funding demands of the taxi industry. Our members’ lives cannot be sacrificed at the altar of profits!”

Nums is also pleading with the industry stakeholders to protect commuters from possible coronavirus infections.

“We also urge the taxi owners, operators, and drivers not to punish with possible infections and death their fellow poor brothers and sisters who use this form of public transport, by ignoring lockdown regulations and filling up their taxis to the maximum capacity. Rather, this is a golden opportunity for the African and Black working class, who are the majority and are dependent on this sector, to unite and demand genuine transformation, full government funding, and modern improvements, to this system of public transport that caters for the majority of the working class in this country.”

Below is the union’s statement: