Minister Grant Addresses Minibus Taxi Indaba
- Programme Director.
- President of SANTACO, Mr Phillip Taaibosch.
- Chairperson of SANTACO Western Cape, Mr Vernon Billet.
- General Secretary, Mr Mzoxolo C Dibela.
- Mr Mandla Mata and other SANTACO leaders here today.
- Mr Reggie Faro from the Breede Valley Municipality.
- Mr Abdul Bassier from Transport for Cape Town.
- Mr Yasir Ahmed, Chief Director of Transport Regulation in the Department of Transport and Public Works.
- Members of SANTACO.
- Ladies and Gentlemen.
- All protocols observed.
Good afternoon, Molweni, Goeie dag. I should like to begin by thanking SANTACO Western Cape for affording me the opportunity to address you all today. The minibus taxi industry remains a valued member of the public transport fraternity, and an important partner in the Western Cape Government’s commitment to providing safe and reliable public transport for the many who rely on it to access social and economic opportunities.
This industry continues to represent a model of successful black economic self-empowerment, having achieved great success, largely through its own efforts and during trying times in this country’s history. It has, to a large extent, empowered black South Africans at a time when few opportunities existed for economic empowerment, while remaining a sector characterised by entrepreneurship, hard work, and self-sufficiency.
The minibus taxi industry is today one of the critical pillars of public transport. Not only is it the most available mode of transport in the country, but it is it is also amongst the most affordable to the public. The minibus taxi industry emerged in the wake of the apartheid government’s policy of economic deregulation, initiated in 1987. From the early 1980s onwards, taxi operators began using larger ‘kombi’ minibuses that could carry up to 15 passengers. Until formal deregulation in 1987, such taxis were considered illegal, but had continued to enjoy growth in popularity amongst black urban commuters in the areas that they served.
Minibus taxis grew in popularity, unlike other public transport options, because they:
- Ran late-night services.
- Travelled to out-of-the-way places.
- Were easily accessible to commuters.
- Charged reasonable fares.
- Made convenient stops on long distances.
- Decreased time spent in long queues at bus and train stations.
In the absence of state regulation, groups of operators banded together to form local taxi associations, which intervened to regulate loading practices and prices, and continue to exist today.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Minibus taxis remain a very popular mode of transportation amongst many South Africans for the reasons stated above and others. It also continues to play an important role in the economy, and economic and social inclusion, considering that the majority of South Africans remain highly dependent on public transport.
I should like to congratulate the industry for its great strides, particularly over the last few years, in creating unity within the mother body, SANTACO. You have accepted regulation and worked tirelessly to combat both corruption and route invasions – the two major causes of taxi violence in the country and in this province. Allow me to take this opportunity to assure you all here today, that the Western Cape Government is committed to continuing with our collective good work, in ensuring that peace prevails, and violence is not tolerated. We have been partners in this endeavour, and will continue to work together in fulfilling the joint responsibility that we have to the people of the Western Cape.
Having said this, it was disappointing for me to receive reports, from Transport for Cape Town, of illegal operators targeting City of Cape Town enforcement officials. I call on SANTACO’s legal members to help us ensure that illegal operators are prevented from threatening the stability and growth of the industry.
SANTACO has started its own road safety campaign, the "Hlokomela" project, whose goal it is to "change the face of the taxi industry", through its road safety initiative. Through the partnership that exists between Hlokomela and Safely Home, we have seen more and more lives saved on our roads. I am pleased to know that industry leaders will continue to assist our traffic officials at ranks and road blocks to identify unroadworthy vehicles, and address drivers on safety and the need for regular rests, particularly during our busy Festive and Easter periods.
Our partnership was also extended to the very successful Fatigue Management campaign (which has seen a marked drop in the number of fatal public transport crashes) that has been implemented since 2010 on all of our major routes, to combat the serious threats to safety posed by fatigued drivers.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I need not remind you all of the horrific scenes that we have seen on our roads involving minibus taxis. Many of us may still remember the horror that befell the Grootboom family in August of 2009 near Beaufort West. The family had been travelling home to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape in an overloaded taxi with 19 passengers in a 13-seater Toyota Quantum. The driver of the taxi had attempted to overtake a bus, lost control, and crashed into it. Ten (10) people were killed instantly, with another 13 people seriously injured. The Grootboom family lost three members on that fateful night. Similar sights have been seen at Buttskop, where 10 school children were senselessly killed, and along the N1 where many more lives have been lost.
Since we launched the Safely Home campaign in 2009, 285 passengers have been killed in minibus taxis, amounting to 47.5 per annum on average, or nearly four deaths per month. This figure is five times that of buses. Minibus taxi drivers also die more frequently compared to bus drivers. Two bus drivers were killed in the last six years, compared to 49 mini-bus taxi drivers. In addition, 121 pedestrians were killed in crashes involving a minibus taxi, almost double the 66 pedestrians killed by buses.
I am, however, proud to tell you that these horrific incidents are becoming less and less prevalent, as we continue to make our roads safer, but we still have a long way to go. Too many drivers are still grossly irresponsible on the roads giving the minibus taxi industry a bad name with their continual disregard of the law. We must do more to send a clear message to our drivers that such behaviour will not be tolerated. Disobeying the rules of the road sends the wrong message to other road users about the minibus taxi industry, and only adds to the culture of lawlessness that prevails, resulting in the horror crashes that kill so many.
In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, I should like to wish you all peace and prosperity in all that you do as partners of the Western Cape Government. I look forward to continuing to work with you in our common goal to provide safe and reliable public transport for the citizens of the Western Cape.