Santaco taxi shutdown under way in Gauteng as group rejects R1bn govt aid

Commuters in Gauteng are once again caught in the middle of a dispute between taxi associations and government, meaning thousands would have no means to travel around the province from Monday morning.

Taxis at a Gauteng taxi rank being disinfected as part of measures to protect public transport commuters from contracting COVID-19. Picture: @vm_africa/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in Gauteng has rejected government’s R1.1 billion relief fund to alleviate pressure on the industry brought on by COVID-19.

Commuters in Gauteng are once again caught in the middle of a dispute between taxi associations and government, meaning thousands would have no means to travel around the province from Monday morning.

But the Department of Transport is adamant it will not offer a cent more.

Santaco and the department said they were open to further discussions but for now, it appeared neither of them were willing to give in.

For many taxi commuters like Papi Lekgoathi, a security guard who works in Houghton, this is another inconvenience.

“According to me, government gave them money and I don’t understand why should they strike?” he asked

In Eldorado Park, Marien Groenewalt said she also relied on taxis to get to work in Coronationville because no one else serviced the route.

“We need to go to work and our children need to go to school,” she said.

The strike comes as commuters prepared to cough up more for taxi fares in Gauteng from the beginning of July.

SAFETY CONCERNS

Amid concerns around safety during Monday’s taxi strike, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Sunday said that the law should be enforced to protect commuters.

Mbalula made it clear that government would not add a cent more. He said that while taxi operators were allowed to strike, they should respect the rights of others.

“Anyone has got the right to protest but they must not infringe on the rights of others who want to get to work and want to operate,” Mbalula said.

Gauteng Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo agreed with the minister.

“We are concerned that Santaco is going on shutdown and the National Taxi Alliance in Gauteng has said they will be operating. We hope this does not set back unity in the taxi industry that we have been working so hard on to build,” he said.

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