The Department of Transport has confirmed that the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme is well on track, despite the department being allocated limited funds to complete the programme.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Transport Minister Jeff Radebe said he was confident the recapitalisation programme was on track.
The amount allocated by the National Treasury was exceeded due to the success of the scrapping process.
Departmental spokesperson Collen Msibi told BuaNews that although the department was allocated R470 million by the National Treasury, the department had requested R1 billion in the last financial year (2007/2008) for scrapping the old taxis.
The department requests an allocation of funds from the National Treasury for it various projects annually ahead of the new financial year.
"However, we have gone the extra mile by spending R668 million on scrapping allowance."
In this coming financial year, Mr Msibi said the National Treasury is expected to allocate R521 million to the department, while it had requested R1.5 billion.
"As much as we work hard to continue fast-tracking the taxi recapitalisation process, we depend in the National Treasury for funds.
"But we are engaging in discussions with the National Treasury to try and assist on how we can speed up the process," said Mr Msibi.
In terms of the programme, taxi operators are paid a once-off R50 000 scrapping allowance, which could be used to buy a new and improved taxis.
Regarding the Operation Licensing Board (OLB), Mr Msibi said had been some challenges with the board and that his department has intervened.
He said an amount of money had been set aside to speed up the process of licensing.
The OLB deals with the conversion of taxi permits into operator licenses, which is an integral part of the programme to ensure taxis operate on routes designated to them, thus preventing feuds over routes.
"Although this issue is handled at provincial level, we decide to intervene [as national department] in order to make sure that the process remains on track," he said.
Recent media reports claimed that the South African National Taxi Association (SANTACO) put "on hold" its role in the multi-billion rand programme because the department was not addressing its concerns.
Last week the department said it was disappointed at SANTACO's decision.
In a statement, the department said it was unfortunate that SANTACO's position came when the decisions taken at its management committee meeting had not been communicated to the department.
Mr Msibi, speaking to Buanews on Thursday said they were currently in discussions with SANTACO and the organisation had not raised this issue with the minister.
The recapilisation programme was unveiled in October 2006 and is expected to cost government R7.7 billion by the time it is completed in 2013.
Since then a total of 13 415 old and unroadworthy vehicles have been scrapped.
The department said government will continue to engage with the taxi industry to ensure that the TRP programme achieves its objective of providing safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable public transport. - BuaNews
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