Government wants the taxi industry to participate in the entire transport value chain, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Friday.

Speaking during debate in the National Assembly on his budget vote, Ndebele said on June 11 he had met over 2000 taxi industry representatives from taxi associations and their organised structures nationally.

Prior to that, fruitful discussions were held with leaders of the SA National Taxi Council.

“On 26 June 2009 we met the leadership of the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) and held similar consultations with provincial departments and affected municipalities.

“We are now all ready to start a ‘Codesa’ of the taxi industry.

“We will encourage the industry to participate in the entire transport value chain,” he said.

This included buses, freight, rail, transport finance, and fuel, among many others.

The structured engagement would initially focus on five strategic areas.

These were implementing the bus rapid transit system and other integrated public transport network projects, taxi subsidisation and the taxi recapitalisation programme, legislation, licensing and regulatory issues, enterprise development, and communication and stakeholder engagement.

The working group would submit an interim report in August and implementation would start by October.

Referring to industry representatives in the public gallery, he said their presence indicated “a new leaf in our relationship as partners and stakeholders in the transport sector”.

“We can say we have now entered a phase that is not going to be characterised by conflict.

“If 2009 is a turning point let it not be said that the taxi industry did not turn,” Ndebele said. – Sapa