September 15, 2005

The IFP will be happy to throw its weight behind the forthcoming Transport Month (October) in the light of the recently published first ever national survey of the travel habits of individuals and households in South Africa and the rising petrol price.

The Survey, tabled in Parliament by Transport Minister Jeff Radebe this week, is based on a representative sample that covered about 50 000 households and is aimed at understanding the domestic travel behaviour and needs of individuals and households in South Africa. It found that a staggering 63% of people in South Africa use taxis.

The survey also found that commuters are spending more on taxis per month (R222) than on buses (R201) and trains (R172), despite over R4,7 billion worth of government subsidies being pumped into buses and trains.

"The IFP has always maintained that South Africa's taxi industry is one of the most impressive entrepreneurial stories of our time," said Mzwamandla Mzobe MPP who serves his party's provincial transport portfolio commitee. "As staunch supporters of free enterprise, we in the IFP hail the gritty determination of taxi operators who have created a thriving business and service without government subsidies."

The numbers speak for themselves: our taxi industry is a key player in the economy and in society, consisting of over 150,000 public minibus taxis and boasting an impressive annual turnover in excess of R16.5 billion.

"The IFP will use the opportunity afforded by the upcoming Transport Month in October to turn the spotlight on the taxi industry by promoting taxi recapitalisation," said Mzobe.

Over the next seven years, the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme, at a cost of R8 billion, will have far-reaching consequences for both taxi operators and commuters alike.

Mzobe also said:

"The IFP believes the intervention is aimed at bringing greater benefits to both in the form of a safe and reliable fleet, affordable services, better regulation and more sophisticated maintenance.

"In addition, the IFP supports taxi recapitalisation because it is already helping to eliminate illegal operators, improving tax revenue collection and raising safety and service standards.

"We, however, urge to government to rethink the compensation levels to taxi operators, many of whom are currently hostile to the programme since they perceive themselves as its ultimate losers.

"The IFP also urges government to afford the taxi industry enough breathing space while implementing the programme, and allow its operators enough say in the decision-making process that once made their entrepreneurial miracle happen and grow."

Contact: Mzwamandla Mzobe, 072 058 9013