Taxi association Santaco has vowed to shut down operations from Monday as a protest against a R1.135 billion relief package announced by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
- Taxi association Santaco says a R1.135-billion relief fund from government will not be sufficient for the industry.
- The industry is losing R25 million daily, with taxis carrying 30% less of licenced capacity.
- Santaco is now planning protest action calling for alternative funding models to be discussed.
Taxi association Santaco has vowed to shut down operations from Monday as a protest against a relief package announced by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Mbalula announced on Friday that R1.135 billion in relief had been allocated to the taxi industry to aid thousands of taxis and their operators during the Covid-19 pandemic
This is among the largest relief packages for any economic subsectors provided for by government. Most subsectors of government received an average maximum of R350 million, but taxi relief support was the highest, Mbalula said.
However, the package has been described by taxi associations as a “slap in the face”, SABC news reports. Santaco now plans to shut down on Monday in protest. Santaco spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa told SABC that the funding was insufficient as it must be shared between taxi operators, metered taxis and e-hailers.
‘20% or more’ of taxi industry experienced total loss of income
Mbalula said that, due to the reduction in the number of passengers allowed, the restriction of inter-provincial travel and time restrictions, the taxi industry had been hard hit by the Covid-19 lockdown. This means the taxi industry has been operating at less than 60% of its fleet size and carried 30% less of its licensed carrying capacity. Almost 20% or more of the taxi industry experienced total loss of income, Mbalulua said.
In an interview with eNCA, Molelekwa said the amount – which will come to less than R5 000 per taxi owner – will not be enough to cover costs. He estimates that between 30 and 45 taxi owners could have their vehicles repossessed in the next six to eight months. Molelekwa estimates the industry is losing R25 million per day due to Covid-19.
The industry generates in excess of R40 billion annually with anything between 250 000 to 300 000 taxis that generates approximately 350 000 direct and indirect job opportunities including drivers, rank marshals and other administrative support staff.
Molelekwa added that the association was currently looking to discussion alternatives with the transport minister.
– Complied by Nicole McCain