The current taxi driver’s strike in the Durban CBD which has left thousands of commuters stranded due to lack of transport is caused by a lack of leadership in the ANC as it is aware of the delay in the issuing of taxi permits by the Department of Transport.
History is repeating itself now as it happened in May when taxi drivers in Durban turned violent as they were protesting against the Ethekwini metro municipality for impounding their vehicles due to them not having valid permits. They are aware that the issue of taxi permits has been a hot potato for some time now and has done nothing to solve this impasse. This shows an absence of leadership and a lack of political will to resolve this situation. We need decisive action in this matter. We demand that MEC Willies Mchunu must provide answers for the delays in issuing permit. He must take full responsibility for the inconvenience that our people are facing. Taxis are impounded by the Road Traffic Inspectorate while the delay is caused by the Department of Transport in failing to regulate the industry.
We acknowledge that there are far too many taxis on our roads and we do not condone taxis operating without permits therefore the Department must speed up the process of validating taxi routes and the issuing of permits. We are not against the law for impounding un-roadworthy vehicles and taxis without permits as most often accidents are caused by un-roadworthy vehicles on our roads.
Now commuters and businesses have to suffer due to the inept Department of Transport. We are unhappy with the Transport Department’s system of issuing permits, and the arrest of drivers who did not have them. Insurers will not pay the claims to the taxi operators when taxis are involved in accidents because they don’t have operating permits. This strike will also have a negative impact on businesses and industry because so many people have been prevented from going to work or got to work late.
Good leadership on the part of the ANC would demand that all affected stakeholders be invited to a meeting to find amicable, long-term solutions. After the May strike we had expected to see the Department inviting taxi associations, the eThekwini Municipality and passenger organisations to discuss how the issue of permits will be fast tracked. We expect the MEC of Transport Willies Mchunu to be vocal about the delay caused by his department in issuing the permits but he is quite and he only issues statements when there is taxi violence or accidents where there is a loss of lives but without coming up with relevant solutions.
We demand that the department of transport must emulate the system by the department of Home Affairs of having mobile trucks to issue birth certificates and IDs where these mobile trucks are visiting communities in their respective areas. Same on this matter of permits, these mobile trucks should visit different regions where taxi associations will be issued with permits on the same day without any further delay. This will assist in avoiding unnecessary strikes like this one. Furthermore, there must be a task team appointed to do follow ups on the agreements made between taxi operators and government when it comes to the taxi industry.
The IFP demands that the MEC of Transport must disband the board that issues permits if they are incompetent and appoint new and capable individuals to speed up the process. He must further conduct a thorough investigation into the causes of the delay in issuing permits. It is high time now for MEC Willies Mchunu to step up his efforts to deal with this issue of taxi permits. We cannot allow the situation where we experience one and same problem under his watch. Regulating the taxi industry must become a priority for the MEC and both his Departments. If he has no capacity to solve this matter he must admit it and vacate his position to allow a more capable individual to take over.
Mr Blessed Gwala MPL, IFP Leader in the KZN Legislature, 079 290 5842