What's behind taxi violence? Santaco explains
Following a spate of killings and violence in the taxi industry‚ the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) says that growing industry pressures fuel the violence that often compromises the safety of commuters.
Santaco spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa told TimesLIVE that the rehabilitation of the industry won’t happen overnight as it is an effort that seeks to untangle a three-decade problem.
"There is an inconsistency in applying the legislation and laws that govern public transport and the industry. People apply the laws as and when it suits them‚ hence the confusion and frustration in the industry.
"Oversaturated routes as a result of unlawful issuing of permits of operation continue to be the main source of violence.
"You find that an association was allocated a route by the department of transport that is already occupied by another association without negotiations for joint ventures.
"Another major factor is the conflict of interest that arises due to public servants owning minibus taxis. This practice sometimes results in unlawful and corrupt methods in which they do business as they probably have political powers or otherwise."
Molelekwa also noted that the government does not consult the industry when they make decisions.
Among other issues affecting the business‚ Santaco acknowledged that minibus drivers lack customer service skills.
He said taxis also faced increasing competition due to the expansion of the transport industry to include bus rapid transit (BRT) systems like Rea Vaya and app-based taxi services like Uber.
"We regret the compromise of the safety of commuters by our drivers and strongly condemn this. Over three decades there has been a general attitude amongst drivers‚ thinking that they are doing the passenger a favour without realising that this is a business‚" Molelekwa said.
"This saw a great decline of the use of minibus taxis. People would rather pay expensive transport as long as they are comfortable and treated with respect."
Santaco is calling on the police to work closely with them in an effort to curb the violent nature of the industry.
"We are not a law enforcement entity and therefore cannot take the law into our hands. If the police consult us and help to solve this matter‚ we will fully comply‚" he said.
Though Santaco said that it cannot monitor every driver and rehabilitate drivers overnight‚ it had programmes in place to try and address road carnage. In 2016 Santaco launched the Hlokomela campaign in an effort to ensure that commuters arrive alive.
Santaco urged passengers and motorists to report bad driving or any violent behaviour by drivers by calling or texting their complaint to 073 356 8500.