As taxi associations across the county remain divided over the decision to fill their taxis to 100% capacity due to continued loss in income, a result of the Covid-19 enforced sanctions, law enforcement is currently awaiting a directive from those higher up.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department is awaiting a directive on the matter after the SA National Taxi Council announced that all taxis across the country would operate with full loads whether government approved or not on Sunday afternoon.
After a no-show from Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to a meeting scheduled with taxi associations to deliberate on matters pertaining to a way forward on the taxi apparent crises, taxi operators have opted to ditch the relief fund package offered by government, with intent to brave looming challenges, which may include a heavy hand from law enforcement.
JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar could only confirm that they were awaiting further instructions from government on the continued arm-wrestling match between taxi operators and government on relief for operators. Operators want government to dig deeper into their pockets while Mbalula has stressed that government has scraped the barrel clean.
Taxi operators across the country kicked-off to an unsynchronised start on Monday as some taxi ranks opted to follow lockdown legislation while others filled their taxis to 100% capacity.
While taxis in the Faraday Taxi Association taxi rank in Johannesburg followed regulation and continued to only load 10 passengers per taxi, KwaMashu taxi drivers in Durban have closed off roads in a brazen attempt to show government their muscle for more action.
In Pretoria, the Bosman taxi rank operators heeded union calls for full taxis. Taxis have been leaving taxi ranks filled to capacity.
Cancelled meetings between associations and Mbalula have forced operators to take action, a step in a direction which could force government’s hand on the matter, in an attempt to maintain order.
Speaking during an interview, Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch pointed out that some of its members would be delayed in reacting to the call to fill taxis, while other associations would choose their own way forward on adhering to lockdown regulation or braving the consequences from law enforcement.
While at a press briefing, Mbalula confirmed the taxi industry was fast on a collision course with law enforcement.
He said government subsidies for the industry were still being discussed, but taxi operators had to stop going to the streets to show their unhappiness.
“We cannot achieve these things by a state of lawlessness. You’re setting yourselves on a collision course with the state. In that instance, the law will have to be maintained.
“You’re daring the law, you’re challenging the authority of the state. There’s no need to do that.
In justifying his no show to a taxi operator meeting, Mbalula said he wanted to meet taxi operators with substantive results on the table. He could not do that until he had met with the Command Council.