The taxi industry is stuck between an informal and a formal business sector, although it contributes massively to the South African economy. As such, there needs to be a taxi indaba to turn the business around for growth and financial benefits. This is according to the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) PhD candidate in Sociology, Mr Siyabulela Fobosi.
Fobosi was speaking on the Cape Talk 567 AM radio station’s Weekend Breakfast show, following the R1 billion relief fund allocated to the taxi industry as part of government’s R500bn national COVID-19 Relief Fund. Taxi operators affiliated to the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) embarked on a strike on Monday, 22 June 2020, to express their grievances over the allocated R1bn, which they said was insufficient.
“There are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed… The best way to address them, in order to bring about the formalisation of the taxi industry, would be to invite some of the stakeholders in the industry to discuss the possibilities of forming taxi cooperatives so that they can be recognised by government. The Department of Labour would also need to be involved to ensure that the operators are registered for income tax and UIF, among other things,” says Fobosi.
He added, “What I recommend is that the government can organise a taxi indaba so that these challenges can be discussed to formalise the industry post the current COVID-19 situation, a lot can be done in terms of turning the business around… and how both the government and the taxi operators envisage the industry can be formalised.”
The South African minibus taxi industry is one of the quickest, most available and affordable mode of transport for millions of commuters. According to SANTACO, the taxi industry employs more than 600 000 people and transports 15 million people per day. In the past few years, Fobosi made several presentations on the operations of the taxi industry at the Land Based Public Passenger Transport Market Inquiry Public Hearing held by The Competition Commission. He also spoke to various news media about the violence in the taxi industry, conducting research at taxi ranks and the formalisation of the industry in order to be recognized by the government for funding and other economic benefits.
Its informal nature includes some taxi owners and drivers operating without licenses. Click here to listen to the podcast of Fobosi’s interview.