by Melinda Hattingh, MPL – DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Transport, Safety & Liaison
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Date: 16 August 2018
The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape is calling on Transport MEC, Lebogang Motlhaping, to urgently lift the veil of secrecy around the fraudulent taxi licenses in the Northern Cape and openly address underlying tensions within provincial taxi associations before the situation intensifies. This is of critical importance, given the recent fatal taxi-related violence that erupted in other provinces.
Earlier this year, the HOD conceded that approximately 300 illegal taxi licenses had been issued by officials. The department indicated that it has since separated licensing delegations, so that no single individual can, on his or her own, process and issue licenses, as was done in the past.
At the time, the department took a sympathetic stance towards the holders of the fraudulent licenses and said they couldn’t just recall the licenses and would deal with the matter through a “consultation process”.
The department’s unwillingness to decisively deal with the fraudulent licenses has meanwhile understandably irked valid taxi operators, whose businesses have taken a knock as a direct result of undue competition from illegal taxi operators.
The DA is still awaiting a report from the department on the fraudulent taxi licenses. In the meantime, we are growing increasingly disconcerted by rumblings of high scale corruption within this department and the taxi industry.
To settle the mood, the MEC simply must be held accountable to all role players in the taxi industry. The issuing of fraudulent taxi licenses also places the lives of commuters at risk. This cannot continue.
He needs to backtrack on his intention to deal with this matter “sensitively” and instead retract the approximately 300 fraudulent licenses as a matter of urgency. After all, this is in effect a legal matter and the law must be allowed to take its course, not only in respect of the licenser but also the licensee.
The MEC must also report on consequence management with regards to the departmental officials who ran this licensing scam. In effect, the allocation of licenses to certain taxi routes was left to a handful of officials, who were able to manipulate the process.
Failure by the MEC to take firm action will create the impression that he is protecting certain individuals. This will only serve to fuel the growing tensions in the taxi industry.
The DA will submit parliamentary questions to ascertain whether the department advertised the license applications, including whether money was taken from applicant license holders by officials, the lack of consultative forums to seek inputs on license applications, who the holders of the fraudulent taxi licenses are and how many licenses were issued to each applicant.
The DA will not allow the ANC-government to overlook the legal taxi industry in support of connected cadres who are trying to cash in on the transport industry.
Only change under a DA-led government will ensure that the rule of law is withheld so that transport operations can be conducted in an open and transparent manner, that unifies taxi operators instead of igniting warfare on the taxi battlefield.