JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country needs to address the challenges faced by the taxi industry.
Ramaphosa spoke virtually on the first day of the National Taxi Lekgotla on Thursday.
The taxi industry is a major source of business creation, with approximately 150,000 taxi business owners operating, employing around 300,000 drivers and 100,000 rank marshals.
The president said the sector needs to be transformed and business operators empowered.
High barriers to entry, like the cost of vehicle financing and maintenance, is threatening business viability, according to the president.
Ramaphosa said the goals for the industry will be built towards formalising and regulating the industry as well as economic empowerment.
The strategy is not a new one, he explained, "this three-pronged strategy reflects the recommendations of the National Taxi Task Team set up in 1995 to look at challenges facing the industry.
"Now, 25 years later, we are taking stock of how far we have come."
Some of the challenges facing the industry are labour relations and allegations of exploitation of workers; road accidents; violence between competing operators, and compliance with tax laws.
He named gender-based violence and the safety of female passengers as an important issue to be addressed.
"We must seriously and honestly confront the associations of the taxi industry with sexism and gender-based violence.
"Just as the industry must itself address and overcome issues of safety and violence, we as government remain committed to driving interventions that strengthen the industry," Ramaphosa said.
Taxi Recapitalisation Programme and subsidisation of the industry will be a key subject of discussion at the lekgotla, according to the president.