Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says the government is working on formalising the taxi industry, which means taxi owners and drivers will pay tax and be eligible for a government subsidy.
Mbalula revealed the plans on Thursday when he addressed the Western Cape taxi lekgotla at the Sun Hotel in Cape Town.
The meeting was organised by Western Cape Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela in the wake of the ongoing taxi violence in the province over routes.
This year, 87 operators and drivers have already been killed, the last incident occurring last Friday in Langa where a taxi driver was shot dead.
“We are finishing off a very important process which was started more than 10 years ago,” said Mbalula.
“To formalise the taxi industry is very important because formalisation will resolve issues of taxi routes, business registration and in that way, there will not be a competition for routes that lead to the killings.”
Commuters have been caught in the crossfire as hired hitmen take out rivals.
A specialised task team has been appointed to investigate the taxi-related killings.
Over the last three years, the team has made 143 arrests.
However, only five convictions have been secured thus far while another 65 cases are currently on the court roll.
Madikizela says: “The net is closing in on more hitmen and also, importantly, on the paymasters behind these heinous crimes.
“The Western Cape minibus taxi industry has shown that it is able to formalise and contract with government to operate a safe and dignified service in a regulated and monitored environment, with performance-based incentives that offer a win-win for all.”
Pointing at the success of the RedDot service, which was a partnership between the taxi industry and the government to transport health workers, Madikizela said lessons could be learnt from the partnership.
“Not only could the RedDot programme be rolled out within record time during the heart of the Covid-19 lockdown, but it was also rolled out within the existing regulatory framework.”
But Codeta’s newly appointed president David Speelman says he had doubts about the plan to formalise the industry.
“We agree with some of the proposals, remember this is new to us and it will take time for us to understand.,” Speelman says.
“They want to change the way we think, they have made a lot of promises that never happen.”
Mbalula did not indicate when the process of formalising the industry will begin.