MEC Gillion Mashego visits VUKTA

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The month of October is known as Transport month and various Transport Departments are engaging in a commitment to ensure the safety on the roads of South Africa. The Department of Public Works and SANTACO, the organisation behind taxis in South Africa, visited one of the biggest Taxi Associations in Mpumalanga, Vukanini Taxi Association (VUKTA), to launch the road safety campaign and to clean-up the local and long-distance taxi ranks. These ranks are in Secunda and eMbalenhle on Friday, 11 October. 
The day started off with a walk in the Secunda taxi rank where the MEC spoke to the drivers and passengers about day to day safety. The MEC, the Provincial Secretary of SANTACO and the VUKTA chairperson, Mr F Sibanyoni, took a ride from Secunda to Embalenhle to experience first-hand what most people have to experience every day. They paid their taxi fare and the taxi dropped them off at the Blue Rank in eMbalenhle. They cleaned up the Blue Rank and engaged with passengers who were about to depart to their different destinations.
The MEC spoke to the drivers but he made it clear that when he comes back next time the association should have employed at least four women taxi drivers, especially for long distances. He said that women have the capacity to drive long distances and if they can drive buses and fly aeroplanes, what is stopping them from driving taxis?
Speaking on behalf of SANTACO, Mr Sibanyoni, the Provincial Secretary, said that they have started a yearly program that teaches advanced driving skills to taxi drivers and how to treat passengers. “There is an ongoing competition from province to province for Driver of the Year, Taxi Rank of the Year and Owner of the Year. These competitions are currently hosted by us and we want to change the perception of the taxi industry. That it is not for uneducated people. We now have taxi drivers and owners with Degrees,” Mr Sibanyoni said. One of the questions that was asked by the media was if the MEC is aware that the road between Secunda and eMbalenhle (R580) is known as the Slaughterhouse because of the high accident rate. MEC promised to have a look and will hand in a motion from the province but he said that he will speak with GMM mayor later that day about upgrades in this municipality. 
The issue of pick up and drop offs was also brought to the MEC by VUKTA drivers. The MEC promised to look into it. VUKTA currently employees more than 1000 drivers and it contributes to the GDP of South Africa. The taxi industry in South Africa contributes more than 5% to the GDP of South Africa. This makes it one of the major industries and it has to be recognised and helped. 
Taxi Associations in the province are encouraged to visit VUKTA to learn how to run a successful organisation from management to office administration. Other associations present were Ermelo Taxi Association and Neighbourhood Taxi Association. “It was a good to see the peace within the taxi industry,” concluded the Department of Public Works in Mpumalanga. – Sandile Mkhwanazi

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