Cape Town – Government has reiterated that the taxi industry, which was largely black owned, should not remain on the periphery of the economy.
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele made the pronouncement during his pre-budget vote media briefing on Wednesday.
He cited President Jacob Zuma as saying in his 2009 State of the Nation Address that he (minister) would resume discussions with the industry on the Bus Rapid Transit system by 11 June that year.
“On that date, we met with over 2 000 representatives of the industry in Johannesburg. On 7 February 2011, government handed over 66 percent to taxi industry shareholders of the phase 1A Bus Operating Company of BRT system in Johannesburg.
“The value of the contract is approximately R184 million per year. This constitutes one of the most significant Broad–Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBEE) transactions the country has seen in transport,” he said.
Ndebele welcomed the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) TR3 2020 strategy for “redefining, restructuring and repositioning” of the industry by year 2020.
“A vibrant taxi industry that shares the vision of transformation in improving public transport, in addition to bus operators and passenger rail operations, is what is needed in our country,” he said.
The minister said rail transport remained the “backbone” of South Africa’s transport strategy.
Over the next three years, he said government would spend R30.2 billion, with R19.5 billion earmarked for capital spending to upgrade existing infrastructure, signalling systems and rail rolling stock.
He said a multi-agency steering committee had been put together to drive the development of a passenger and freight services project on the Durban to Johannesburg corridor.
“Our vision is of an Africa whose transport infrastructure facilitates the movement of goods and people by road and rail. That connection starts with our neighbours in the Southern Africa region,” he said.
On roads, he said that 80 percent of them were older than the 20-year design life and the country needed R75 billion over five years to “arrest the decline of our roads.”
For road maintenance, a total of R6.4 billion, R7. 5 billion and R8.2 billion had been set aside for the 2011/12; 2012/13 and 2013/14 period respectively.
To ensure road safety, Ndebele said the National Rolling Enforcement Plan (NREP) incepted last year had resulted in the checking of 9 million vehicles and drivers, with 3.5 million fines being issued; nearly 14 000 drunken drivers being arrested and almost 34 500 unroadworthy vehicles being banned from use. – Francis Hweshe, BuaNews