JOHANNESBURG. — The taxi industry’s defiance of lockdown regulations is a direct challenge to government’s overarching authority and will be dealt with decisively by law enforcement agencies.
This was the latest warning issued by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, following a rebellion led by the South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) which ordered the industry to operate at 100 percent capacity and ignore the need for interprovincial travel permits.
Addressing the media yesterday, Mbalula slammed the taxi industry’s impatience, arguing that regulatory reprieves were actively being deliberated by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
The latest challenge, which seeks to undermine a host of lockdown laws, comes after weeks of intensified conflict between Mbalula and the taxi industry.
Santaco argues that government has failed to support the sector, which, like most other industries, has suffered serious financial losses as a result of lockdown.
Mbalula recently revealed that government had offered the taxi industry a once-off relief payment of R1.1 billion; an amount which Santaco blasted as insufficient.
The latest act of defiance follows protest action in Gauteng, which saw what was intended to be a peaceful shutdown of taxi services devolve into acts of criminality typified by highway blockades. Law enforcement agencies responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, while Mbalula made hasty retreat from the scene after being subjected to aggression from striking taxi drivers.
Mbalula condemned the acts of violence and pleaded with taxi associations to follow the rule of law.
Yesterday morning Mbalula argued that the war being waged by the industry against government was both callous and unnecessary, saying:
“Can the taxi industry promote anarchy and bring the country to a standstill? Yes, they can. Can the law be exerted with the authority of the state? Yes, there will be a collision. Over what? Over something that we can resolve.
“That is completely unnecessary. Collision over what? Over 100 percent (capacity), over interprovincial travel?” — The South African.
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