Mbalula slams Santaco’s call for taxis to operate at full capacity

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Transport minister, Fikile Mbalula, has slammed the decision by the South African National Taxi Association to allow taxis to operate at 100% from Monday.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms, any call encouraging taxi operators to violate provisions of the law and promote lawlessness. We remain committed to taking forward our engagements and encourage the industry to ensure that any form of protest they embark upon, is within the parameters of the law,” Mbalula said in a statement on Sunday.

Mbalula said following his engagements with the taxi industry leadership in the last week and his commitment to give them an update once the matters had been canvassed with the decision-making structures within government, he scheduled feedback meetings on Thursday.

However, these had to be rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Mbalula added that it was rather unfortunate and regrettable that the taxi industry leadership had elected to violate the law and forcefully load taxis at 100% capacity and undertake inter-provincial operations without the requisite permits, rather than await a decision on the matters they have tabled.

“Government has a responsibility to ensure that all measures in place as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, are driven by the commitment to preserve human life and avoid an uncontrolled spread of the virus. It is on that basis that a decision to allow uncontrolled inter-provincial travel and 100% loading capacity on taxis have to be subjected to the collective decision-making,” he said.

He appealed to the leadership structures of the industry to reconsider their decision to incite lawlessness and place their drivers and passengers on a collision course with law enforcement authorities.

“While we have expressed support for a review of loading capacity to 100%, until the current directions have been revised, the legal loading capacity is 70% and enforceable by law enforcement authorities,” he said.

Earlier on Sunday, Santaco president Philip Taaibosch, announced that taxis will operate at full capacity, while those travelling along long distance routes will be allowed to continue travelling without a permit.

He warned that if any taxis were stopped by law enforcement and impounded, all taxis across the country would be park where they were and would not move until the impounded taxi was released.

“No taxis will be impounded. And if any taxi is impounded, all taxis in SA will come to a halt until all taxis are released,” he said.

Taaibosch said the decision came after several meetings between them and Mbalula were cancelled.

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