Lockdown: Response to WC Santaco allegations

I am very disappointed and taken aback by blatant lies and dishonesty from SANTACO Western Cape Chairperson, Nazeem Abduraman during his interview with Heart FM last night. I need to set the record straight and correct some factual inaccuracies told by Nazeem during the interview.

The first lie told by Nazeem is that I made a commitment and I’m now not available to fulfil it.

On Monday the 23rd of March I, together with SANTACO leadership launched a campaign to comply with health measures in the taxi industry in order to curb the spread of COVID 19. At the request of the industry and in the spirit of partnership and the wellbeing of our citizens, I committed to meet them halfway by assisting the industry with sanitizers, pamphlets and gloves.

The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works spent the weekend producing information pamphlets in all three of the province’s official languages and we jointly distributed these pamphlets and gloves on the day of the launch in Cape Town. We promised to speed up the procurement of sanitizers which are in short supply everywhere.

I spoke to Nazeem yesterday morning, and I have been talking to him almost on a daily basis. I told him that we have found a supplier for the sanitizers and masks. The Department wrote to the taxi industry to request confirmation of the amounts that they will need per week and we are unfortunately still waiting for their response.

Secondly, Nazeem is accusing me of not coming to the party with funding to compensate for their loss of income during this lockdown. His anger is however misdirected.

Western Cape SANTACO is playing the victim for not being subsidized as the taxi industry when he knows very well the reasons for that. We’ve been having this conversation since my appointment. In fact, it’s been on the cards for years. The taxi industry must comply with some basic requirements like compliance with labour laws for their employees in order to partner with Government and be considered for incentives or subsidies.

I am still committed to working with SANTACO but I can’t work with dishonest people. In order to partner meaningfully, we need to be honest with each other. It will be unfortunate if SANTACO pulls out from transporting essential service staff today, but I hope they will not attempt to stop essential service staff from being transported.

The rules for transport during the Nationwide lockdown was not drawn up by the Provincial Department of Transport, but we support it and the objectives behind it. The government will not allow the taxi industry or any other group to endanger the lives of essential services staff or our citizens in general during this crucial time when we have to pull together to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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