Background / History of SANTACO
SANTACO was founded after government intensive consultative process with taxi operators countrywide in a move to have an umbrella body governing the industry and act as the principal mouthpiece for taxis. This was guided by the National Taxi Task Team recommendations of 1996 which rested on three pillars of formalization, regulation and empowerment under the auspices of one taxi body as the taxi body then, SATACO was not seen as inclusively representative.
The National Conference Preparatory Committee (NCPC) was consequently formed to facilitate a national conference to initiate a new body with elections conducted at local, regional and provincial levels. In September 2001 SANTACO was formally established and remains the principal representative body of the Taxi Industry in South Africa.
The South African Taxi Industry has come a long way since the very first taxi was introduced more than half a century ago. The birth of this industry was a direct result of the industrialisation, which forced black South Africans from their traditional homesteads to the cities to look for work. The apartheid land act dispossessed the majority of people of their land and forced them into the urban labour market.
The emergence of this industry was both an opportunity for black people to advance economically under very trying circumstances, as well as to provide a service to our people. The deregulation of the industry in the 80’s unleashed uncontrolled growth of the industry and provided fertile ground for conflicts over route and ranking facilities. During the same period the industry boomed into a giant sector, boasting urban market share of 65% that soon became unmanageable in the absence of any form of regulatory framework.
The fragmentation of the industry across taxi association lines created serious problems, as these became power blocks vying for lucrative routes and gave rise to violent confrontations. Unity initiatives since before 1994 culminated in the establishment of the South African Taxi Council (Sataco). In 2001, under the watchful eye of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the democratising process was completed when a National Executive Committee was elected under the presidency of Mr Thomas Muofhe. The organisation, now called the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), is formally recognised by government as the legitimate industry representative.
The Industry Today
The minibus taxi industry is a critical pillar of the South African public transport sector, operating and competing with the heavily subsidised bus industry for more than five decades without receiving a cent from the government in the form of grants or subsidies. Currently, the taxi industry is the most available mode of transport to the largest number of transport ‘customers’ across a variety of income and need segments. As such, taxis carry 65% of the 2,5 billion annual passenger trips in the urban environment and serve as the base-load public transport carrier, both during peak and off-peak transport times.
Presently, the taxi fleet consists of approximately 130 000 vehicles operating with legal transport permits. Approximately 95 000 are used for short and medium distance trips in the urban environment, and the remainder for rural and inter-city transport. More than a third of the vehicles operate in the Gauteng province.