Transport Minister Blade Nzimande recently announced a revised taxi recapitalisation programme (RTRP), which aims to transform the taxi industry by scrapping old vehicles.RTRP is an initiative by the government to bring about safe and reliable taxi vehicles, by systematically introducing vehicles designed to undertake public transport functions, into the taxi industry. This will be the second phase of RTRP after the previous scrapping contract ended in September. “Government made a firm commitment to facilitate a conducive and enabling environment through legislative and strategic interventions to professionalise the taxi industry by making it user friendly for both passengers and operators,” said Nzimande. The revised program will increase the allowance given to taxi owners to scrap their old vehicles and replace them with new ones. The amount will increase from R91 100 to R124 000 per scrapped old taxi. Nzimande said in his address on Friday last week that this increase will help to address concerns raised by the taxi industry that the previous amount was insufficient to replace their vehicles. Moreover, a new service provider was appointed on March 1 and will commence with the scrapping of vehicles in various provinces.
Anthus Services joins the Department of Transport as a technical partner and will be responsible for the administration and the management of the taxi recapitalisation programme.By September 2018, more than 72,000 old taxis had been scrapped and R4.4 billion had been paid out in allowances. The taxi industry is estimated to transport about 15-million commuters a day – and is considered to be the most critical pillar of the public transport sector. The industry consists of approximately 150 000 public minibus taxis and is estimated to have a turnover of more than R16,5 billion. Nzimande added that as part of the RTRP, government hopes to also address the challenges facing the scholar transport and cross-border taxi operations. The Department of Transport also intends to use the programme to change to the way the taxi Industry operates and introduce unity. “The industry currently works on an individual taxi ownership model and collaborative route management structure through local taxi associations, regional, provincial and national taxi councils. By and large, the individual ownership model and taxi association route management model are at the heart of the endemic conflict and violence which have bedevilled the taxi industry for decades. “To this end, the Department of Transport intends to use the revised taxi recapitalisation programme to unify the Taxi Industry by introducing collaborative ownership and operating models, using structures such as co-operatives and corporatisation,” said Nzimande.