Three-day imbizo on the way forward for the mini-bus taxi industry ends on a positive note
- The City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government, and taxi umbrella body SANTACO held discussions over three days this week.
- The imbizo comes in the wake of a deadly taxi strike during the first week of August.
- Agreement has been reached on operating licence conditions, and to hash further concerns out over the next four weeks
An agreement to safeguard commuters has been signed by the City of Cape Town, provincial government, and umbrella taxi organisation SANTACO following a three day imbizo which ended on Thursday. The parties have agreed to further discussions during the next four weeks to complete outstanding work.
Representatives from the three parties make up the Mini-Bus Taxi Task Team (MBTTT), which was formed in the wake of the devastating taxi strike in August. The national Department of Transport was also involved in the discussions.
The strike, which was called without notice on Thursday 3 August in response to the impoundment of mini-bus taxis by the City, left thousands of commuters stranded. The strike was also marred by violent incidents, including the deaths of five people as well as nine Golden Arrow buses, and numerous private vehicles being burnt.
The inability of people to get to work, as well as delivery vehicles being targeted resulted in food shortages throughout the city, particularly in the poorer areas, with the Provincial Minister of Mobility Ricardo Mackenzie telling Parliament the strikecost the Western Cape at least R5-billion in economic losses.
Part of the agreement to end the strike, which was later made an order by the court, was to re-establish the taxi task team and that a minimum 36-hour notice for any future strike action would be given.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the task team stated: “Through extensive consultation and earnest deliberation, we have found common ground on what are fair and rational consequences for most of the operating licence condition transgressions. Underpinning this exercise is the mutual priority to address fundamental challenges in the transport sector and deliver functional, reliable, safe mobility for our commuters.
“While the MBTTT fully acknowledges the complexity of the work that still lies ahead, the agreement is a meaningful milestone towards ensuring that minibus-taxis continue fulfilling their significant role in the overall transport network,” the statement said.
SANTACO Western Cape deputy chair Nceba Enge said agreement had been reached on a number of issues. Beyond agreeing to operating licence conditions, there will be a four-week period where “robust discussions will take place, in order to complete the work that is still outstanding”.
In a recent debate on the taxi strike in City council, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said costs of the strike action were being tallied and civil action against SANTACO would be considered.
The MBTTT stated they would “redouble our efforts to find common ground on the outstanding points of disagreement”.
GroundUp tried to get clarity on what this latest round of talks means for ongoing impoundments and potential civil action. We were told that the parties had agreed that further details of the agreement would not be shared “to protect the process”.