TAXI OWNERS’ fears of losing their operating licences are turning out to be reality when the payment process for Early Exit Compensation (EEC) began.
The City of Cape Town has started paying part of the R41million in compensation to minibus taxi operators who have left the industry after their businesses were directly affected by the roll-out of the MyCiTi bus service.
This was met with a great deal of frustration when owners spoke to People’s Post last week.
Jeffrey Tobias, a Maitland taxi owner, feels the compensation is “not enough” and would rather have continued operating in order to make a better living.
“Some of these drivers are still paying off their taxis and everybody here works around the clock to support their families, but we still struggle and now the City is talking about taking away our operating licence,” he says.
“It’s a ridiculous plan for them to make more money.”
Another Maitland taxi owner, Ashraf Jacobs, was adamant that MyCiTi had not held their side of the bargain and “no agreement” was put on paper.
“There was no agreement reached on the compensation some of the drivers received and we are expected to just accept that the MyCiTi bus services will be used,” Jacobs says.
“If the City feels that this bus service will be more of a benefit to the area, then I should start learning to drive a bus.”
Morgan Phillips, a Maitland route driver, can’t understand why taxis have to be completely muscled out by the service.
Struggling to come to terms with the compensation, Phillips says: “I have to surrender my vehicle and accept such a small amount I’m losing out rather than gaining anything.”
Phillips says his intention of turning his taxi venture into a family business is dented by the roll-out of the MyCiTi bus service.
“That would have been a great idea, but I ask myself one question; ‘What do I build on and how do people expect me to build on this money?’” Phillips asks.
The City is now finalising the payment process for the Maitland Taxi Association, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Drivers became increasingly concerned when they heard about taxi drivers belonging to the Ysterplaat Taxi Association, which consists of 36 members, receiving only about R200 000 for loss of business.
An amount of R5 500 was compensated for each permit.
At the roll-out of the MyCiTi buses at the end of May last year, taxi associations using routes now serviced by the MyCiTi buses suffered significant losses of income due to the number of passengers switching over to the bus service.
Brett Herron, the Mayoral Committee member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater, explains that certain minibus taxi operators affected by the existing MyCiTi services approached the City for compensation.
The City then agreed to pay them but only in the case where there was an oversupply of vehicles on a route, where operators have approached the City, where they agreed to exit the industry and where the relevant vehicle operator company supports such early payment.
According to Herron, 29 of the 88 minibus taxi operators, with 35 licences between them, along the R27 route to Table View have offered to take up compensation.
These taxi operators have received their payment and surrendered their vehicles, with the process still paying more associations.
Taxis are sent to the Taxi Scrapping Board and each operator receives a once off payment. At the board, operators have to surrender their licences and vehicles.
Herron compares the process to “buying a business”.
“We welcome the very constructive partnership we have forged with the taxi operators as we begin rolling out the permanent milestones of the new service,” he says.
Herron feels that the process of paying out the EEC marks a “significant step in the IRT project programme and is an important component of industry transition”.
People’s Post attempted to gain comment from the Maitland Taxi Association, but were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.