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PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
30 May 2007
SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUTERS ORGANIZATION CONTRIBUTION TO TAXI RECAPITALISATION
Chairperson: Mr R Tau (ANC, Northern Cape)
Documents handed out:
South African Commuters Association presentation (awaited)
The Committee was briefed by the South African Commuters Association (SACO) on their functioning, policies and methodologies.
Key Issues discussed included the establishment of SACO, SACO structures and membership, challenges facing commuters, funding and support for SACO, transport in the rural areas, the relationship with taxi owners, SACO involvement in the Taxi Recapitalization Project, the China-delegation, Gautrain Project, SACO efforts to protect commuters and the government’s involvement in SACO.
Presentation by the South African Commuters Organization
Mr. S Sanuweni (President: SACO) briefed the Committee on key issues regarding SACO involvement, policy and working.
Important issues that were highlighted included: The Founding of SACO, The Goal of SACO, SACO Contribution to Crisis’s in the Bus Industry, Deliberations with Dr. Welgemoed, The Taxi Indaba of 28 February 1993, SACO Membership, The Involvement of SACO in National Transport Policy, The Effect of Taxi Violence on Commuters, The Involvement of SACO in Stopping Taxi Violence, The Involvement of SACO in the Taxi Recapitalization Project, The Protection and Safety of Commuters, China-Delegation, Challenges Facing SACO, The State of Public Transport in South Africa, Opposition to the Taxi Recapitalization Project, The Smart-Card System and Public Transport in Rural Areas.
The Chairperson started the discussion by introducing the members of the Committee to the SACO delegates and also welcomed Mr D Viljoen (Deputy Director, Parliamentary Services) from the Ministry of Transport.
Mr Viljoen commented that he would not respond to the presentation of SACO but would convey it in full to the Minister.
Ms H Matlanyane (ANC, Limpopo) thanked Mr Sanuweni for his presentation. She continued by commenting that in Mr Sanuweni’s presentation he had extensively referred to Gauteng and wanted to know whether SACO members originated mostly from Gauteng. She asked Mr Sanuweni to explain the SACO national structure. She further commented that in all provinces, not just in Gauteng, serious problems were currently experienced in relation to commuters.
Ms M Oliphant (ANC, Kwazulu-Natal) commented that it was her understanding that SACO was a Section-21 organization but asked Mr Sanuweni to elaborate on this assumption. She asked for clarity as to whether Mr Mac Maharaj had established SACO on a national level or if SACO was a government initiative. She wanted to know, seeing that part of the taxi recapitalisation project was to assist those who were reluctant for change, whether SACO had in practice a strategy to address this. She also wanted to know whether relations with taxi owners were improving. She continued by emphasising that some of the conductors in taxis used fowl language and if reprimanded would simply ignore the complaint. She posed the question of whether commuters were encouraged to request the taxi drivers not to speed. She further commented that in rural areas vans, which were usually in very bad condition, were widely used to transport people and that commuters had no choice but to use these vans.
Rev P Moatshe (ANC, North West) enquired, seeing that SACO was part of the delegation to establish safer vehicles for use, whether SACO had determined what kind of vehicle should be used in South Africa. He further asked what means was being used by SACO for funding; and raised the question of why the government was not assisting SACO financially.
Mr Sanuweni highlighted the fact that the SACO Provincial Executive had established-structures in all provinces and added that it was the intention of SACO to reach all communities. He continued by emphasising that although SACO was based in Gauteng, it had branches in many other cities. He pointed out that SACO had been involved in the taxi recapitalisation project since its inception. He continued by saying that since the first violence started, SACO had been interacting with the various taxi associations, and added that in the instances of problem-ranks, SACO would demand a rank to be closed if it serves in protecting the commuters. He emphasised that SACO had good communication with those that were reluctant in regards to the taxi recapitalisation project, and continued by highlighting that SACO also had good relations with the big-6 associations, which he referred to as Club-6. He continued by stating that there had been miscommunication from the side of government as to the taxi recapitalisation project, this he added, have in the past lead to frustration in some of the taxi associations. He pointed out that there were some companies in the private sector who had tried to delay the taxi recapitalisation project but emphasised that the recapitalisation project would not be stopped.
Mr Sanuweni also pointed out that the previous government did not care about commuters and allowed for substandard taxis to be used on the roads. He continued by saying that SACO was part of the Initiative that went to China and that SACO insisted that taxis should have decent space, be equipped with a rollover bar and a Smart-Card machine. He also pointed out that it was SACO that suggested that the manufacturer considered moving some of its plant-operations to South Africa. He continued by assuring the members of the committee that SACO would not allow for the taxi recapitalization project to be hindered or stopped by those seeking to serve their own personal interests.
Mr Sanuweni made it clear that it was it is the aim of SACO to ensure that South Africans, of all colour, had access to public transport that it was safe and affordable. He continued by expressing his disbelieve in the government’s claims of budget constraints and exclaimed that the Gautrain project, which amounted to R21 billion, took only three months to approve. He further stressed the fact that SACO should enjoy the same status and funding as SANTACO, which is funded by the provincial governments and given offices and equipment. He continued by explaining that SACO was indeed a Section-21 organisation but had not been established by Mac Maharaj but had existed since 1999. Although SACO was not a government initiative and not funded by the government, it would strive to have a good relationship with the government without compromising it’s independence. He commented that, with regard to funding, SACO received no assistance from government and therefore could not pay salaries to its officials.
Ms N Duso (Member of SACO Delegation) emphasised that everyone, despite colour, could join SACO. She also commented that SACO was unable to do anything with regard to the vans being used in rural areas.
Mr T Tyaka (National Chairperson, SACO) commented that both national and provincial governments were doing a lot to improve roads in developed areas but that not enough was being done to improve the road-conditions in rural areas.
Ms Matlanyane wanted to know what SACO was doing to spread information regarding its original goals to communities and also what it was currently doing in terms of funding. She also stressed her concern as to the number of members that currently belonged to SACO, which totalled only 9000. She further asked how poor members were supposed to afford the membership fees of SACO.
Mr Sanuweni responded by saying that initially members had had to pay a joining fee of R13 but added that this was no longer the case and that people could now join SACO free of charge. To the question on the amount of members he responded by saying that SACO currently had around 12 000 members and not 9000 as mistakenly stated in the presentation. He added that, with regard to the spreading of information, SACO had in the past used the radio to inform people as to the goals and aims of SACO.
The Chairperson commented that the meeting had been very informative and had helped the Committee to better understand the challenges that commuters faces on a daily basis. He expressed his concern as to the vulnerability of commuters due to taxi violence and poor or lacking service. He added that the victims of violence are almost without exception the innocent commuters. He further encouraged SACO to attract members to its organisation by using inexpensive means and going to the taxi ranks and also stated that it was his believe that membership of the organization will grow exponentially.
The Chairperson also commented that, with regard to the Monorail project in Gauteng, rail-transport was a government competence and that government was not consulted by the consortium that initiated the project. He further commented that the consortium’s claims of transporting 1 million passengers a day was questionable. He continued by commenting that SACO should aim to grow its structures into municipalities and added that SACO was a very good initiative. He added that although the government gave it no financial support, SACO encouraged it.
Mr Sanuweni raised his concern about law-enforcement, saying that officials were often not very helpful to commuters. He emphasised that there had been worrying reports of police-officials themselves being involved in crimes against some commuters. He further added that SACO believes that Metro-Rail police should have their own uniforms so that commuters could easily identify them. He concluded by saying that SACO would also suggest that taxi’s have one colour as to avoid confusion by commuters.
The meeting was adjourned.
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