It goes without saying that the taxi industry needs to be cleaned up.
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula briefs media about operations and air travel safety at OR Tambo International airport in Kempton Park, 24 November 2019. Picture: Neil McCartney
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has drawn the proverbial line in the sand on the issue of government Covid-19 relief to the taxi industry – but will that sand end up being kicked in his face?
While taxi associations were threatening mayhem and a strike to shut down services in Gauteng today, Mbalula was adamant that the government would not budge on the amount of aid – pegged at R1.135 billion (the largest given to any sector of the economy) – nor on the mechanism for disbursing the money.
This will be handled by the SA Revenue Service and will be contingent on the recipients being compliant, not only in terms of business and tax registration but also in terms of operating stipulations, including roadworthiness.
In other words, the government is, at long last, trying to get a vast part of the economy, which operates to its own rules and often outside the law, to do things by the book.
It goes without saying that the taxi industry, which generates billions of rand in revenue annually and carries millions of commuters daily, needs to be cleaned up.
The lawlessness which characterises some operations means commuters get exploited and abused; the lives of other road users get placed in danger through reckless driving and other behaviour, and a violent underworld mafia system is able to thrive.
Taxi bosses are unlikely to pay much attention to Mbalula’s correct assertion that a strike will cost them more on top of what they have already lost due to the lockdown transport restrictions.
That is because much of the industry operates in a way which believes it is above the law and in which violence and threats are the way to solve problems.
So, which is stronger – the ANC or the taxis? Hint – don’t put your money on the former…
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