The taxi industry was pleased and excited by the renewed taxi recapitalisation programme, saying it finally addresses their ongoing concern of a valuable subsidy for better minibus taxis.
Transport Minister Blade Nzimande yesterday announced the revised taxi recapitalisation programme with the appointment of Anthus Services 84 (Pty) Ltd, a technical partner, to administer and manage the programme.
As part of this initiative, which began last month, the government has decided to increase the minibus scrapping allowance from R91,100 to R124,000 per scrapped old taxi, a decision welcomed by the industry.
Nzimande said: “To fulfil the transformation and sustainability requirements of the revised taxi recapitalisation programme, 60% of the commercial benefits generated by the taxi recapitalisation SA operations will flow to the taxi industry.”
This brought excitement to the industry as for many years the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), which represented all taxi associations, had been pleading for a revised subsidy which could equal a reasonable deposit for a new minibus taxi.
Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch said: “The increase from R91,000 to R124,000 is very much welcomed.
“While [the increase] is not responding to the needs on the ground such as foreign minibus taxis being allowed into the country by government, it is something and we will continue discussing with government.”
In 2007, the department of transport had planned to scrap 135,894 taxis but has spent R4.4 billion on allowances by the end of September 2018 for scrapping just 72,653 old taxis.
The new programme will start by scrapping 1,917 illegally converted Toyota panel vans, as recommended by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane last month.
Nzimande said: “Apart from these things [panel vans] being a danger to commuters, they are [also] unfair competition to other taxi operators who bought proper vehicles on our roads.
“Law enforcement should be ruthless when it comes to these illegal vehicles.”
Taaibosch, however, believed banks, dealerships and manufacturers were involved in the selling of panel vans, despite knowing that they were illegally converted into minibus taxis.
“We cannot leave them alone. We need to engage further with the department of transport and other stakeholders, especially the dealerships and manufacturers of these vehicles,” he said.
“There has to be an acceptable proposal to the industry to compensate the operators as most of them have already paid off those vehicles and now they have to be scrapped.”