The project aims to replace about 120 000 of the country’s 16-seater taxis with 85 000 new minibus taxis.

In 2004, when Transport Minister Jeff Radebe made his announcement on the way forward for the taxi-recapitalisation programme, he discarded the previous project which favoured a more high-specification product, and opted instead for a programme where taxi operators can now buy any vehicle they chose, as long as it adheres to a new, but less strict, list of specifications, revolving around safety.

Key elements of the revised programme include the introduction of a once-off allowance of R50 000 per scrapped vehicle to legal operators.

The scrapping allowance will be rolled out over a period of five years, and will be applied regardless of the age or condition of the vehicle.

Government will also introduce ranges for vehicle seating capacity – instead of the original requirement that new taxi vehicles have a seating capacity of 18 or 35 – with the ranges governed by the demands of a particular route.

Value
An estimated R7,7-billion.

Duration
The programme is expected to be implemented from the beginning of the 2005/6 fiscal year, unfolding over a period of seven years.

Breakdown of main contracts
Not stated.

Client
The South African government.

Latest developments
The first tangible step in governments long-awaited programme to take dangerous and dilapidated minibus taxis off the road will be launched next month by the transport department.

The department will award the first tender in the R7,7-billion national taxi recapitalization programme within a matter of weeks and will see 16-seater minibus taxis replaced with new 18-seater and 25-seater buses within the next five years.

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe has stated that the first of 10 000 of the country’s old taxis will be sent to the scrap heap from July, and the process will be completed by the end of the year.

The department is adjudicating private-sector tenders for the new taxi-scrapping agency. The minister expects this to be completed early in April, and the new agency to be operational by July 1.

Radebe has stated that 75% to 80% of all taxis will comply with the new safety requirements by 2010.

Government will control a database of all taxis to ensure the smooth running of the process and its sound regulation.

Among safety requirements are the fitting of seat belts and roll bars to protect passengers, and tyres and brakes will have to comply with South African Bureau of Standards requirements.

The government intends to phase in the programme gradually over the next five to seven years instead using a ‘big bang’ approach.

Once the agency starts operating in July, no new taxis will be registered unless they meet
the safety requirements of the recapitalization programme.

The conversion of apartheid-era permits to operating licences has to be completed by May 1.

Operators who have not converted their licences by the deadline will forfeit them.

Participants
None stated.

On budget and on time?
The project remains beset with delays.

Contact details for project information
Santaco, Reggie Mutsi, tel (012) 321 1433.
Department of Transport, tel (012) 309 3000.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
DATED: 21st April 2006