The government is hard at work fast-tracking the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme that aims to formalise the taxi industry, says Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Mbalula was tabling his budget vote for the department on Friday.
“The revised Taxi Recapitalisation Programme is key in our efforts to transform the face of our public transport and ensure the taxi industry occupies its rightful place in the system,” Mbalula said.
“We have committed to scrapping 63 000 taxis by 2024. However, the pace at which the process has been unfolding has been painstakingly slow due to the demand-driven nature of the programme.”
Mbalula said the government intends to work with the industry to find creative solutions to unblock the bottlenecks hindering progress.
In 1999, the government took a shot at formalising the industry by introducing the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme to remove old and unsafe minibuses and replace them with safer ones.
The government intended to create a newly regulated taxi industry. It introduced a model which would phase out the old, smaller taxis to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and improve safety.
Operators who agreed to scrap their old taxis were paid R50,000 for each to buy a new, compliant vehicle.
Since then the programme was revised in 2019 and the scrapping allowance was increased.
Numbers suggest that by September 2018 only 72,690 old vehicles had been scrapped against a readjusted target of 135,894 since 2006.
There is an R1.1 billion once-off gratuity to the taxi industry in the 2020-21 financial year.
Mbalula said the government and industry had made the commitment to usher in a new subsidy regime this financial year that recognises the role of the taxi industry as the preferred mode of transport for the majority of public transport users in the country.
“Our public transport subsidy policy will place the commuter at the centre. It implementation is underpinned by a core principle that those who benefit from public funds must play their part and pay their dues as responsible citizens.
“At its core, the subsidy policy aims to contribute to the creation of a sustainable public transport system by giving impetus to the formalisation of the taxi industry,” Mbalula said.