12 February 2007
President Thabo Mbeki says the government will speed up implementation of its R7.7-billion taxi recapitalisation programme, which aims to rid South Africa’s roads of unsafe minibus taxis and introduce new and safer vehicles.
The National Taxi Alliance (NTA) is opposed to the implementation of the programme, which aims to scrap more than 10 000 old taxis by December.
In terms of the programme, owners who wish to leave the industry or buy new vehicles are offered R50 000 for each unroadworthy minibus taxi that they possess, for it to be removed from the road.
The NTA has protested against the scrapping of old taxis, arguing that the government’s R50 000 offer is not enough for taxi owners to put down a deposit on new vehicles.
However, the government says it has reached consensus with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) on the offer.
And on Friday, Mbeki said the government and Santaco would not be pressurised to stop or slow implementation of the taxi recap programme.
“Let me take this opportunity to emphasise that government and our partners in Santaco will not be bullied into abandoning the taxi recapitalisation project, and any attempts to undermine public order in pursuit of selfish interests will be dealt with accordingly,” he warned.
Mbeki said the government had over the past few years developed and started implementing various programmes aimed at improving passenger transport in South Africa. These included the taxi recap project, as well as:
- The multi-billion rand Gautrain rapid rail link project, which links up with other modes of public transport;
- The Moloto Rail Corridor in Mpumalanga, around which feasibility work had started; and
- The Klipfontein Corridor in Cape Town.
Mbeki said the government would also be implementing detailed plans for improving passenger rail and road transport, including creating a bus rapid transit system in all metropolitan municipalities, and recapitalising Metrorail.
“These and many other initiatives form part of a comprehensive passenger transport strategy, combining both road and rail,” Mbeki said. “We will attend to the urgent implementation of these programmes to improve the quality of life, especially of the working people.”