Western Cape Taxi Lekgotla
Speech by Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works
15 October 2020
- Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula
- City of Cape Town Mayco Member for Transport, Ald Felicity Purchase
- President of SANTACO: Western Cape, Mr Nazeem Abdurahman
- First Deputy Chairman of SANTACO: Western Cape, Mr Mzoxolo Dibela
- Representatives of the Metered Taxi Industry, led by Mr Dave Drummond
- Representatives of SA Women in Transport (SANWIT), led by Ms Moira Krige
- Representatives of the disability sector
- Senior Government Officials
- Municipal Officials linked via the digital platform
- Members of the Media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
The importance of the minibus taxi industry
The minibus taxi industry has a very rich and colourful history in the Western Cape.
From the big old ‘Valiants’ that operated as metered taxis, responding to the need for larger vehicles to transport people who heeded calls to boycott buses during the Apartheid era. The minibus taxi industry grew by responding to the needs of the communities that they served.
Today, minibus taxis are responsible for transporting some 55% of all daily commuters who use public transport in the Western Cape.
Before the collapse of the rail system in Cape Town, minibus taxis were transporting 32% of all daily public transport commuters in the City.
With the near total collapse of the Central line, that percentage is now probably much higher.
In the City of Cape Town, 95% of public transport users are in the low to middle income brackets
We therefore rely on the minibus taxi industry to transport our people in safety and dignity.
We started an outreach programme to communities and the taxi industry in August 2020 already – as soon as restrictions on movement allowed for us to visit taxi ranks to speak directly to drivers, operators and commuters.
The outreach programme, which is still ongoing, also allows us to engage with Mayors, Councillors and officials to address the practical concerns and challenges that operators, drivers and commuters face on a daily basis, such as:
- The need for regular cleaning of ranks (raised in Knysna and many other ranks)
- The availability and cleanliness of toilet facilities at taxi ranks
- Taxi recapitalization (raised in Mosselbay)
- Liaison structures between operators and municipal officials
We see this Provincial Makgotla as tying into our outreach programme so that overarching issues that affect the industry can be ventilated. These issues include:
- Unity and Leadership
- Professionalization and Customer Care and
Our outreach programme also include regular engagements between myself, officials from my Department, officials from the City of Cape Town and the leadership of SANTACO in the Western Cape.
For many years now, my Department has assisted the elected leadership of SANTACO with administrative and financial support, as well as office infrastructure from where the leadership can perform their duties.
We have committed our support for this Makgotla and the National Taxi Lekgotla, which is planned for the end of this month, so that our partnership with the minibus taxi industry can be further strengthened.
For people to be transported in safety and dignity and for the industry to prosper, the biggest challenge that we have to overcome is that of taxi violence.
- 87 operators and drivers have been killed in this year alone! (63 cases registered – including murder, double murder and triple murder cases)
- A further 34 cases of attempted murder are also under investigation (40 victims wounded)
- Commuters have been caught in the cross-fire as rival taxi groupings send hitmen to take out rivals.
This image of a warring, blood-soaked minibus taxi industry will only change when leaders commit to
- peace and unity;
- to professionalizing their operations – including the working conditions of drivers
- operating within a transparent regulatory framework (not invading the routes of others; recruiting illegal operators etc)
- and working with Government to empower the industry through partnership
There should be no room for criminality or criminals in the taxi industry.
The leadership must renounce the acts of intimidation, extortion, violence and murder that are being perpetrated by criminal elements within the ranks of the industry.
We want to thank the SAPS for the good progress that is being made in bringing the murderers and hitmen to book.
A dedicated team of detectives was established and is now being expanded to investigate taxi related crimes.
Over the last three years this team has made 143 arrests.
Five (5) convictions have been secured and another 65 cases are currently on the Court rolls.
The net is closing in on more hitmen – and also, importantly, on the paymasters behind these heinous crimes.
Partnership / Empowerment Model
The Western Cape minibus taxi industry has shown that it is able to formalise and contract with Government to operate a safe and dignified service in a regulated and monitored environment, with performance-based incentives that offer a win-win for all.
Covid-19 presented us with many challenges – but it also brought to the fore the inventiveness of South Africans.
We have shown what is possible when we work together – in good faith.
We are now exploring with the Western Cape minibus taxi industry, how we take the lessons learnt from RedDot to higher levels with the BlueDot service, which we hope to pilot on a number of routes before the end of this year.
Not only could the RedDot programme be rolled out within record time during the heart of the Covid-19 lockdown, it was also rolled out within the existing regulatory framework.
We are very proud that the Western Cape developed its own Public Transport Regulation System (PTRS).
The system which went live in October last year, has allowed the Western Cape PRE, during 2019, to process 99% of all operating license transactions within 60 days – with an average turn-around time of just 30 days, where the legislation allows for 90 days.
We invite Minister Mbalula and his department to a demonstration of our PTRS. We know that the dysfunctional National Land Transport Information System (NLTIS) is one of the challenges that the taxi industry in other provinces has raised with him.
Just before the hard lockdown necessitated by Covid-19, I had instructed my department to arrange a Planning Indaba where municipal planning authorities take stock of their Integrated Transport Plans and re-assess supply and demand for public transport services
I have also had discussions with officials in my department to explore the introduction of technology into the public transport planning and regulation space to ensure that demand for- and supply of public transport services can be more effectively monitored and responded to within the regulatory framework.
Professionalisation / Customer Care
We are fortunate to have representatives of the SA Disability Sector with us today.
Customer care – including respect for the most vulnerable (like the very young and very old) and those with special needs including the blind and people in wheelchairs, must be central to an ethic of respect and care in our public transport system.
Drivers must be trained.
Facilities must be universally accessible.
To achieve this goal, the taxi industry, together with Government must commit to changing the working conditions of drivers.
Safety and dignity of passengers will be at risk if drivers have to drive like maniacs to make targets before they start earning a pittance for themselves – and when drivers are forced to work even when they are sick, because the basic conditions of employment are ignored.
I have said to the leadership of this industry that they cannot ignore or abdicate their responsibility towards their employees and expect those same employees to treat their customers with dignity and respect.
Unity and Leadership
A stable minibus taxi industry is only possible when there is stability in leadership.
My department and I will continue to work with and support the democratically elected leaders of SANTACO in the Western Cape.
It is up to the leaders to commit themselves to serving their members to the best of their abilities by:
- Respecting and working within the confines of the constitution of SANTACO;
- Committing to serve the industry as a whole and not personal, narrow interests;
- Fairly and transparently distributing opportunities across all geographic regions and operators
I have seen commitment at work with the current leadership and I trust that the strengthening of unity and leadership at national, provincial and local levels of the industry will lead to growth and prosperity for the taxi industry as a whole.
I thank you.