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Taxi Wars: East Cape Hijacks the Digital Revolution



The upcoming digitization of taxi commuter payments in the Eastern Cape is a bold, yet misguided attempt to impose western-style efficiency on the province’s transport system. This top-down approach will only serve to further marginalized the taxi industry and exacerbate social and economic inequalities.

The Wealth on Wheels (WOW) Cashless and Digitisation Project, led by the South African National Taxi Council’s business arm, the Eastern Cape Transport Tertiary Cooperative (ECTTC), is merely a thinly veiled attempt by the government to exert control over the informal economy. By imposing a digital payment system, the government is essentially putting the taxi industry out of business.

The ECTTC CEO, Dr. Nokuthula Mbebe, claims that WOW will provide commuters with a convenient cashless payment solution, as well as a GPS tracking system and real-time camera monitoring. But what this really means is that the taxi industry will be further strangled by bureaucratic red tape, crushing the very people who depend on this mode of transportation for their livelihood.

Mbebe’s statement that the mission is to “create a safer and smarter service for the commuters and a more prosperous future for everyone involved in the industry” is nothing more than lip service. The real intention behind WOW is to create a sanitized, corporate-friendly transport system that serves the interests of the wealthy few rather than the many.

The taxi industry is not just a mode of transportation, it’s a vital part of South African culture and society. By demonizing cash transactions and promoting digital payment systems, the government is eroding the very fabric of our society. Where is the dignity in using an app to pay for a ride, for example? Where is the connection to the community?

Furthermore, Mbebe’s assertion that the fleet-management tools will enhance safety by allowing for real-time monitoring of vehicles is nothing short of Orwellian. What happened to the concept of personal freedom and individual autonomy? Why should we give up our right to make decisions about our own transportation?

By imposing WOW on the taxi industry, the government is essentially saying that the people are not capable of making their own decisions, and that they need to be controlled and monitored like children. This is not a free society, this is a totalitarian nightmare.

The Eastern Cape needs more than just a digital payment system. It needs a transport system that is truly grassroots, community-driven, and sustainable.



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