Last week I was invited by taxi owners and taxi drivers in Port St Johns to listen to their concerns. The uncertainties around the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme concern them deeply. Indeed, their concerns are remarkably similar to the concerns of many in the taxi industry that I have met throughout the country.
The affordability of buying the new vehicles remains a major concern. The question is still why Government does not issue safety specifications to the manufacturers of the minibuses currently being used? Such a step would allow those who cannot afford the larger vehicles to continue operating whilst still addressing the safety and roadworthiness concerns of Government.
Another concern that was raised relates to the use of other types of vehicles to fetch people from remote rural areas where current minibuses or the new 25-seaters cannot reach. The operators of these specialised vehicles would like to know whether the new dispensation will cater for their particular circumstances.
The persistence and wide geographical spread of these types of concerns makes it apparent that the current process of negotiating the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme has bypassed vast numbers of stakeholders. We are appealing to you not to just focus on SANTACO committee members and so-called representatives of national taxi associations, because they are suspected by many stakeholders of not properly representing the interests of the industry. We would urge a broader consultative process and a public campaign to communicate with the industry in all major centres across the country.