- Tensions between the taxi industry and the Ministry of Transport escalated after Fikilile Mbalula snubbed a meeting planned for Sunday
- The taxi industry has decided to reinstate the 100% loading capacity and allow long distance commutes
- The Minister of Transport has slammed this decision by taxi bosses, calling it lawless
The ongoing conflict between the Department of Transport and the taxi industry has escalated and threats of illegal activities could become reality this week.
On Sunday, the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) issued a statement to all taxi operators in South Africa, saying engagements with Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula have failed and the industry should begin operating at 100% capacity.
SANTACO president, Phillip Taaibosch, also informed the taxi operators that they can resume long distance travelling without the necessary permits.
Mbalula says it is unfortunate and regrettable that taxi operators have decided to violate Covid-19 lockdown regulations and has condemned this lawlessness.
The taxi associations said that Mbalula had cancelled engagements with them on multiple occasions and they were left with no choice than to decide themselves.
Briefly.co.za reported that the taxi industry was offered R1.135 billion in a package to help ease the financial strain cause by the pandemic.
News24 reported that Mbalula cancelled a meeting that was planned for Sunday to negotiate being able to carry more passengers, said The South African.
In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, the taxi industry was instructed to only load at 70% capacity during the lockdown.
The taxi industry has reported that this has stifled profits and they have tried several times to engage with the transport minister, who has been avoiding them apparently.
Mbalula told the taxi operators that he did not have the power to sign off on any changes to the regulations.
Spokesperson to Mbalula, Ayanda Allie-Payne said:
"The minister needs to hear from the National Coronavirus Command Council what their final decision will be regarding the interprovincial travel as well as the 100% loading capacity that the taxi industry is asking for."
On social media, SANTACO criticised Mbalula, saying he had been dishonest. They said:
"Forget Mr Bullet Train who’s dishing out poisoned chalice. This treatment from the minister has forced us to think very deep in our unspoken frustrations because it’s clear we were sold empty shells."
The taxi industry also highlighted that air travel operates at 100% capacity and they should be afforded the same courtesy.
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