Santaco warns to bring the country to a standstill if taxis are impounded, vows to load at 100% capacity

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The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has warned Law Enforcement Agencies that if one vehicle is impounded for loading at 100% capacity and travelling to other provinces, they will bring the country to a standstill.

Santaco’s leadership made the announcement at a media briefing after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula yet again cancelled a meeting with the industry.

They are also demanding that all taxis that were impounded at the start of the lockdown be released.

Santaco President, Phillip Taaibosch says, “We are aware that law enforcement will want to impound our taxis. Our vehicles have been impounded since day one of the lockdown with a charge of at least R5 000. Tomorrow, we will not accept any form of impounding. Operators will have no option, but to park all their taxis countrywide until the impounded taxis are released and we are allowed to continue with our work.”

In the video below, Santaco briefs the media: 

Operating licenses

The Taxi Council has vowed to approach the courts over government’s failure to issue operating licenses to taxi operators. 190 000 taxis nationwide were not operational during the lockdown.

Taxis remained the primary means of transport for essential service workers.

In the video below, taxi drivers express their frustrations amid COVID-19 lockdown:

Taaibosch says they are concerned over government’s attitude towards the industry.

“All legal taxi operators in South Africa who possesses an operating license also have a SARS tax clearance certificate, our proposal to the minister is that why doesn’t the government use the operating license certificate as a qualification criteria instead of creating a complicated process for the applicants. Santaco will have no choice but to approach the courts for intervention.”

Minister ‘not taking taxi industry seriously’

The taxi industry has accused Mbalula of not taking them seriously following the postponement of the schedule meeting. The meeting was organised for Saturday at 1pm and then postponed to Sunday at the same time.

“We do not appreciate his handling of this thing and I think even if you are not in the taxi industry as an ordinary person, you would realise that you are not being taken seriously. Last night (Saturday) around to 12, we did receive an SMS from the ministry saying let’s make the meeting at 13:00 today. We received a message to say the minister has requested the meeting to be postponed to tomorrow,” says Santaco Spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa.

More reactions to Santaco announcement 

Reacting to an announcement by Santaco that members will start loading their vehicles to 100 percent capacity from Monday, Western Cape Transport Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela says he is sympathetic to the plight of taxi owners.

Madikizela says taxi owners also need to survive. “We can’t have a situation where the price now that people are paying is even more than the Covid-19 price because if you look at what is happening in terms of people who are hungry, people who are depressed, anxiety, the rate of anxiety, you know. Abuse is happening in those homes. If you weigh that against the situation that we are facing people will end up taking the risk and I don’t blame them.”

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has urged the public transport industry to comply with COVID-19 regulations. Speaking during a media briefing in Durban, Zikalala said they have observed that public transport was not regularly decontaminated.

“There’s virtually no sanitisation that is taking place and in some of these activities, there’s no social distancing and no regular decontamination in those transport facilities. This is causing a risk of spreading infections at a rate that will overwhelm all of us we are taking this opportunity to appeal to all involved in the public transport industry to ensure that they fully comply.”

Transport Ministry expresses disappointment at SANTACO’s utterances: Ayanda-Allie Paine

The Transport Ministry says that the meeting between the department and the Taxi association will still take place next week as earlier reported. However, the department has expressed disappointment at SANTACO’s utterances that its members will load one hundred percent capacity as from Monday.