Operations on hold as taxi associations must still sign MoU
The multimillion-rand intermodal rank in Komani was officially launched with much fanfare by provincial and local government officials and members of the taxi fraternity on Friday, but it remains idle a week later.
Operations at the state-of-the-art facility were scheduled to start on Monday, but according to Uncedo Taxi Service Association chair Sandi Mgoba, a memorandum (MoU) of understanding which has not yet been signed by the 10 local taxi associations that will make use of the facility, is holding things back.
The signing of the document, said Mgoba, is expected to take place during the week at a meeting called by the advisory committee and operations at the rank are set to begin before the end of next week. The launch, which Mgoba said was overdue by six years, has not had an easy ride either. It took place after a long wait because of disagreements between the taxi operators and Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM).
The delay sparked tensions, with the police having had to intervene in June when taxi drivers forced their way through to make use of the facility even though it was unauthorised.
On the day of the launch, Mgoba said: “It has been years since the facility was completed. However, we are happy that EMLM is handing it over as mandated by the province. Our excitement to receive the facility will encourage us to look after it with care, thereby maintaining our dignity as business operators.”
According to Mgoba, the rank was expected to accommodate about 50 taxis. Taxi operators were happy to finally receive the rank as their point of operation.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane and transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana handed over the facility on Friday.
Mabuyane said: “We are grateful that the launch took place. The taxi drivers, hawkers and people are happy. The intermodal taxi rank is a new concept which came through the department of transport. The only disadvantage was the delayed handover, which led to the rank being vandalised.
“It will be of great assistance to the passengers as the police will operate satellite offices on the premises.”
Mabuyane said the facility also had a boardroom, which was a reflection that the taxi industry was taken seriously and would form a good partnership with the municipality to ensure an efficient operation.
“Government’s aim is to make sure the taxi industry continues to contribute to the economy.
“It is a huge industry contributing to the country’s gross domestic product [GDP]. This is why we are providing an environment conducive to their productive function.
“The department of transport contributed R8.9m and EMLM the land,” Mabuyane said.
He said the plan was to establish more intermodal ranks in the municipalities of the province as part of the revitalisation plan.
The taxi rank forms part of the Provincial Development Plan (PDP), aimed at developing an enabling infrastructure network that promotes economic activity.
Tikana said taxi drivers deserved a dignified place from which to operate.
“The intermodal facility will have an emergency vehicle repair centre for local mechanics servicing taxis which use the rank, adding to job creation. We are looking out for the safety of passengers who arrive during the night and have a place to wait till morning.
“The hawkers will also have a decent place where their equipment will be secure,” the MEC said.