The government has offered the taxi industry a relief package of R1.135bn.
Minister of transport Fikile Mbalula said on Friday the government had agreed to provide relief to the taxi industry in the form of a one-off ex gratia payment to taxi operators.
Mbalula said the department agreed with the National Treasury to designate revenue service Sars as the implementing agency to register and administer the relief to the taxi industry as it has proven capacity in handling transactions of this nature.
“Reaching agreement for this relief support for the taxi industry was a difficult process that involved extensive lobbying and convincing the relevant authorities on the importance and need for this fund,” Mbalula said.
He added, “The department of transport will finalise its work and we will in due course announce the date on which payments in respect of the available relief will start.”
He said each taxi would be allocated R5 000 and this will go to taxi owners. The minister said it would be a once-off payment.
“The R5 000 per taxi is once-off. It cannot be calculated for the entire duration of the lockdown. R1.135 billion has been set aside for the taxi industry. Even in that, there has been an argument about whether it is enough. Others said they want R20 000 per taxi, it is not possible to do that. If you say R20 000 per taxi that comes up to R10 billion, the government will not have R10 billion in its kitty to provide to the taxi industry,” Mbalula said.
He said it was not possible to award the industry more than the allocated amount as the government had no funds. Various industries had been impacted by the closure of businesses, Mbalula said.
“Our response to the virus has been informed by goodwill and sacrifices. Industries have fallen apart. Such industries should be saved if we can save them,” he said.
Taxi owners will have to be genuine registered operators to benefit from the funding.
The taxi industry had reportedly demanded more than the R1 billion being offered by the government. Like other industries, taxis have been required to reduce their load capacities in an attempt to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Because of this, the industry has suffered from reduced income. Last week, various taxi associations said they would be increasing their prices to make up for the lost income. In most areas taxis fees will increase by R7.
Mbalula said his meeting with the taxi industry had also focused on possibly going back to the 100% capacity. He said the decision cannot be taken by his department alone and that it would be discussed by the government’s National Coronavirus Command Council.