Summit addresses bloodbath in SA public transport

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE South African government will this week convene a summit to reform the taxi industry plagued by deadly violence and accidents.

This platform will bring together government, civil society and industry stakeholders.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, writing in his weekly letter to the nation on Monday, also bemoaned the steep fares passengers were using on transport.

A report by Statistics South Africa found that more than two-thirds of households with the lowest income spend more than 20 percent of their monthly household income on public transport.

“In a country where the vast majority do not have access to private cars, the provision of efficient, reliable, safe and affordable public transport is critical to our people’s everyday lives,” he wrote.

The president said the National Taxi Lekgotla would chart the course towards a more efficient sector.

He said two events last week drew into sharp focus the reality that for far too many citizens, using public transport was dangerous and could even be deadly.

Last Wednesday, 16 people were killed when a minibus taxi collided with a truck between Melmoth and Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal.

A day later, commuters had to flee on a busy highway in Johannesburg when a passenger in a minibus taxi opened fire on the driver, killing him and causing the vehicle to lose control.

“Many of our people’s experiences with public transport are not positive,” Ramaphosa said.

He added that those reliant on trains had to contend with daily delays, disruptions and prolonged closures of essential lines.

“Furthermore, rail infrastructure in most cities only covers older parts of cities and has not kept up with new city development.”

Unroadworthy vehicles, unsafe driving, speeding, overloading and other practices are other persistent problems in the taxi industry.

“Many people fall victim to crime on trains, taxis and buses,” Ramaphosa lamented.

According to 2015 figures, around two-thirds of households who use public transport travel by minibus taxi.

A quarter travel by bus and 10 percent by train.

The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan Ramaphosa announced earlier this month acknowledges that improving transport infrastructure is central to economic growth and expanding industrial activity.

– CAJ News

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