The multibillion-rand taxi recapitalisation plan aimed at replacing the hazardous minibus taxis currently in use with new, specially built vehicles, may be cancelled if the costs are too high.

The multibillion-rand taxi recapitalisation plan aimed at replacing the hazardous minibus taxis currently in use with new, specially built vehicles, may be cancelled if the costs are too high.

The recapitalisation plan was initially meant to be implemented in 2000 but after several delays, the first vehicles were supposed to be available in June this year. The programme aims to replace the current fleet of aging minibus taxis with new specially built 18- and 35-seater vehicles.

However, the great cost of the programme could lead to it being abandoned. The transport department's deputy director-general for public transport and planning, Jerry Makokoane, on Monday said that this decision would not be a hasty one.

Government was still grappling with many issues related to the impact the planned recapitalisation would have on the state's coffers. According to a report, it would have to provide about R12 billion to cover the 20 per cent scrapping allowance for minibus taxis. Other factors would also be the affordability of the new taxis to the operators and the impact on commuters' fares.

"If we take that route, there will be fundamental reasons why we take up that choice," Makokoane said. "It will not just be issues of money but whether we have a better option for commuters."

"It's not just about the recapitalisation of the vehicle. We also have to make sure we have better infrastructure for public transport and affordable public transport for commuters."

Makokoane confirmed that the evaluation of the best and final offer bids submitted was completed in November last year and said an assessment of prices of the vehicles raised on the bid was critical.

"When we take a decision, we don't want it to have a serious impact on operators, and we also want to ensure it does not lead to a price hike for commuters," he said. "We're considering all of that."

Makokoane added that a final decision had not yet been taken since analysis had not been completed yet. However, he said transport minister Jeff Radebe was expected to respond to issues surrounding the taxi recapitalisation plan in his budget speech next week.

Original article from Car