School transport taxi strike averted

Taxis contracted to transport learners to school are expected to fulfil their mandate tomorrow morning after successful negotiations between provincial government and the taxi industry role players. 

“All Scholar Transport Operators should take the learners to school on Wednesday, the 18th of January 2023,” said the South Africa National Taxi Council’s (Santaco) Eastern Cape Provincial chairperson, Zola Yolelo in a statement issued after the successful negotiations with provincial government on Tuesday evening.

The Eastern Cape Department of Transport (ECDoT) spokesperson, Unathi Bhinqose confirmed that the provincial government team led by Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Transport MEC Xolile Nqatha were able to successfully engage with the taxi industry role players to avert the strike action over non-payment of scholar transport operators. 

“The strike action by taxi operators in the Eastern Cape that was scheduled for Wednesday, the day when schools reopen, has been averted and it’s all thanks to an intervention by the provincial government led by Premier Oscar Mabuyane and MEC Xolile Nqatha,” Bhinqose said.

This follows after the South Africa National Taxi Council (SANTACO) announced their plans to shut down the transport sector in the province on Wednesday, January 18 when learners in coastal provinces returned to school. Santaco had then said this was due to the non-payment of scholar transport operators. 

In a media release, Bhinqose confirmed that the issue of delayed payment for scholar transport operators has been resolved. “At the crux of that protest was the non-payment of scholar transport operators and that matter too has also been put to bed as they will get their monies no later than the end of next week,” he said.

Chairperson Yolelo hailed Premier Oscar Mabuyane for the intervention.

“Through the intervention of the Honourable Premier, the DoT has managed to secure funds that will sustain the Scholar Transport Tender until the end of the contract which is the end of March 2023,” he said. 

Bhinqose said the department was pleased that the school year would start smoothly. “The strike action has been averted and we are pleased that the school year can start without any glitches,” he said.