Empowering women in the taxi industry

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The government says it is determined to support business growth within the taxi industry, focusing especially on previously disadvantaged individuals such as female taxi drivers.
During a virtual talk with the National Taxi Lekgotla on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the industry is one of the economy’s most important sectors.
This, he says, makes it all the more necessary to transform and empower the businesses involved. 
“We share a common aspiration to see the minibus taxi industry overcome its challenges, adapt in response to the demands of modern public transportation, and ultimately to grow and thrive. At the heart of all our endeavours is a formalisation, regulation and economic empowerment,” the President said.
The two-day lekgotla, which takes place in Boksburg, is monitoring talks between the taxi industry and key stakeholders in an effort to formalise the taxi industry
The main goal of the discussion is to address the challenges facing the sector and reach an agreement on the future of the taxi industry.
“Given its financial size, formalising the taxi industry is a vital step towards ensuring its contribution to the national tax revenue base.
“And importantly, formalisation will benefit not just operators but workers who will be able to benefit from social support like the Unemployment Insurance Fund and training funded by the Skills Development Levy,” the President said.
He added that the lekgotla must be a turning point for the taxi business as it is often associated with lawlessness, a disregard for the rules of the road, the abuse of customers and conflict. 
“We must seriously and honestly confront the associations of the taxi industry with sexism and gender-based violence. We must work together, as government and all industry stakeholders, to ensure that women are safe – and feel safe – when travelling by taxi.”
He said all forms of public transit must be integrated to allow people to use all the modes of transport available to them. 
“Our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan set out a number of interventions to spur economic activity, to create jobs and to embark on a renewed industrialisation path. If we are to meet the targets we have set ourselves, an efficient, safe and reliable public transport system will be key to transport the workforce,” the President said.
Ramaphosa said that the only way SA will be able to offer the best value for money and convenience to the public is through a unified system.
Taxi industry called to address challenges
The President encouraged the taxi bosses to address challenges that have tarnished its reputation. 
These include the issue of labour relations and allegations of exploitation of workers; the high number of road accidents involving taxis; the industry’s response to the rise of e-hailing services; and compliance with tax laws. 
“We also need to address the conflict relating to competition over routes and the associated acts of violence and criminality. Just as the industry must itself address and overcome issues of safety and violence, we as government remain committed to driving interventions that strengthen the industry,” the President said.
Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, said that realising the formalisation, regulation and empowerment of the industry will change the face of South Africa’s public transport system for good.
“It is evident that despite government intervention to support the taxi industry through numerous initiatives, the industry is still characterised by oversupply, decreasing revenue, poor infrastructure and uncontrolled competition on routes. This has become a source of ongoing conflict and violence,” the Minister said.
Mbalula said unity in the industry is vital and the perverse incentives for conflict and violence must be eliminated.
“The pact we must emerge with out of this lekgotla must demonstrate the seriousness with which we regard this matter. It is time the taxi industry spoke out against violence and proclaim for all to hear, not in our name,” the Minister said. 

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