The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) says it has no part to play in the national shutdown protests anticipated to take place on Friday.
Instead, the taxi association says it is exploring all avenues with government related to the pressures and frustrations over rising petrol prices over the past six months.
“Contrary to media reports about the taxi industry’s involvement, Santaco has never engaged with any organisation whatsoever in the effort to mobilise for a national shutdown as a result of the petrol price crisis,” it said in a statement issued on Wednesday night.
Santaco, however, believes the temporary fuel levy relief has not addressed the pressure on the taxi industry which is responsible for the movement of 16 million daily commuters.
“The current petrol dilemma forces government to find an urgent solution… [In] our engagement with our government, [we] will not and cannot settle for anything less than either a specially reduced petrol price structure or compensatory model to cushion the operational burden that is caused by the petrol price [spike],” adds the association.
Meeting with ministers
Santaco says it has a pending meeting with Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula to discuss the petrol price crisis in the hopes of finding solutions to the matter, among others issue affecting the taxi industry.
The association further confirmed its intentions to approach the ministers of finance and of mineral resources and energy for “logical solutions to the prominent issue” of spiralling fuel prices.
Santaco spokesperson Bafana Magagula says that government bodies have the power to give the taxi industry relief against constant petrol price hikes.
According to the taxi body, taxi fare increases may not be enough when measured against current petrol prices which may force further fare increases unless urgent interventions are implemented.
Santaco says despite fare increases, it is still undercharging commuters in comparison to market rates that other subsidised modes of transport are charging.
“We are equally worried about the commuters who are hard-pressed on their disposable income due to the general increases of food prices and other necessities in their lives. They may not afford transport costs and… may struggle to go to work, leading to further drops in revenues of the already constrained taxi industry,” adds the association.
The body says the impact of petrol price increases “should not be distributed equally on all modes of public transport”.
“The national executive committee of Santaco is yet to meet over this matter… [After the committee meets] it will announce how the taxi industry intends to deal with the petrol price crisis in a manner that protects the taxi operators who [have been] already sinking in revenue losses over the past six months.”
Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.