Mbalula to fight violence in public transport industry

Public transport operators could lose their operating license if they are found to have engaged in extortion and racketeering, which are associated with violence in the industry.

“Serious consideration is being given to amending the terms of all operating licenses to explicitly provide for the suspension and withdrawal of operating licenses under section 79(2)(b), where an operator is convicted of engaging in extortion and racketeering.” Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said yesterday.

The provisions of Section 79(2) of the National Land Transport Act currently empower regulators to revoke or suspend operating licenses in defined circumstances.

These include the licensee or an employee of the licensee who is found guilty of an offense under the Act or any law relating to motor vehicles, or the regulation of traffic or the safety of work or labor relations, or an offense due to fraud or dishonesty.

Speaking in a virtual appearance before the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Mbalula said the intermodal conflict has worsened in recent years and goes beyond long-distance bus operators.

Reported incidents include school transport, cross-border transport, commuter services and commercial contracts between employers and private operators.

“Extortion has become institutionalized in the public transport space, with the taxi industry being the main culprit. “It provides a perverse incitement to conflict and violence. These practices are not isolated to the Western and Eastern Cape, but widespread in all provinces,” Mbalula said.

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