The final recommendations for the much-delayed taxi recapitalisation programme should be available by the end of August after speculation that high costs could see the programme being scrapped.

The final recommendations for the much-delayed taxi recapitalisation programme should be available by the end of August after speculation that high costs could see the programme being scrapped.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, transport minister Jeff Radebe said though the programme had been dragging along, the process was back on track. The steering committee was busy with the short-listed bidders - Tata, Kwoon Chong Mudan Automobile, Daimler Chrysler South Africa and Iveco - to verify their best and final offers.

Radebe said: "Government's officials are under clear instructions to ensure that offers are affordable to government and will allow taxi-owners to make a suitable living.”

Referring to the long delay in moving to larger taxis to replace an aging minibus taxi fleet, he said: "The shortcomings of the current proposals relate in most part to the escalation of costs that have appeared over the years since it was first proposed."

One of the greatest stumbling blocks is the assessment of the subsidy scheme’s costs which applies to the purchase of the planned 18 and 35-seater taxis.

Government has been struggling since 2000 to implement the programme and has already budgeted four billion rand to offer taxi operators a 20 per cent subsidy for the scrapping of existing taxis. The affordability to government and commuters has been raised with a recent report indicating that about R12 billion would have to be made available for the necessary scrapping.

Minister Radebe said the subject would be finalised by cabinet once the recommendations were made.