Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has maintained that the government will enforce the current loading capacity regulations in the taxi industry.
In a statement on Sunday evening, Mbalula said the government had not yet made a decision to reinstate 100 percent loading capacity as demanded by the SA National Taxi Council (SANTACO).
“While we have expressed support for a review of loading capacity to 100 percent, until the current Directions have been revised, the legal loading capacity is 70 percent and enforceable by law enforcement authorities,” he emphasised.
‘We’ll not accept impoundment’
In separate virtual media briefings earlier on Sunday, SANTACO and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) said they will resume 100 percent loading capacity and inter-provincial travel without permits as from Monday.
SANTACO president Phillip Taaibosch said, “We have taken this decision against the frustration and lack of direction. We are aware our vehicles will be impounded.
“Tomorrow, we will not accept any form of impoundment. If any taxi is impounded, all taxis will come to a halt until they are released.”
The association also rejected the criteria attached to the government’s R1.135 billion relief fund for the taxi industry. They accused Mbalula of postponing meetings with them to discuss these and other issues, such as taxi fares.
Collective decision making
However, Mbalula said meetings with the industry scheduled for Thursday last week “had to be rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances.”
“It is rather unfortunate and regrettable that the taxi industry leadership has elected to violate the law and forcefully load taxis at 100 percent capacity and undertake inter-provincial operations without the requisite permits, rather than await a decision on the matters they have tabled,” he said.
The Minister explained that the industry’s demands have to be subjected to collective decision making because of the government’s “commitment to preserve human life and avoid an uncontrolled spread of the virus.”
Mbalula added, “I appeal 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.
“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.”