Jan 20, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Taxi industry finally accepts Covid-19 relief funds

In what the government has called the first step towards formalizing the multi-billion dollar taxi industry, sector leaders on Tuesday finally accepted the R1.135 billion aid fund for Covid-19.

This This was followed by months of intense arguments, verbal abuse and protests over the crowd and the harsh conditions attached to it since its launch in 2021.

BusinessLIVE reported that Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the money was coming from around 137,000 minibuses 25,000 meters long, it shares taxis and 63,000 e-hailing operators, with each operator taking home approximately R5,000.

Mbalula said the relief fund is “a stepping stone” to formalization and transformation the taxi industry.

“It’s not an answer to anything. It’s an encroachment. It won’t solve all problems. ”

In a briefing on Tuesday, Mbalula admitted that the taxi industry, which carries around 16.5 million passengers a day, 50 billion in fuel,“ got a rough deal ”- stressed but that they themselves are responsible for the lack of unity.

“Today we are officially starting the disbursement of the Taxi Relief Fund, which is the impact of Covid-19 on the taxi industry,” said Mbalula, repeating that the relief wasn’t a magic wand to tackle the challenges of the sector.

“That’s not what it’s meant to be. It is voluntary, which means that you do it, but you are not bound. ”

The industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as the passenger occupancy rates according to social rules at various stages of the lockdown Distancing was reduced. while inter-provincial and cross-border operations were prohibited.

The industry had previously argued that the R1.135 billion fund was a drop in the ocean compared to the losses incurred during the lockdown.

Mbalula said industry leaders came to him to ask questions about the aid fund’s strict terms and conditions and “we looked at all of those terms.”

One of the starting points was that taxi companies were operating officially registered as a company and the registered company has a bank account to which the relief grant is transferred.

The conditions also provided that the SA Revenue Service (Sars) is the implementing agency and the relief for the Taxi business managed.

However, the condition is ns, on which all parties agreed on Tuesday and which Mbalula read out during the briefing, provides that an applicant is a citizen of the SA or stands iger place of residence, in possession of a valid operating license and with which Sars must be registered as a taxpayer.

Sars was dropped as the implementing authority for the disbursement of the aid funds and was replaced by the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), which was led by CEO Philisiwe Mthethwa , the wife of Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Theo Malele, spokesman for the National Taxi Alliance (NTA), the country’s second largest taxi organization, told Business Day the condition she was facing Mbalula stated, “Sars must not be used in this process. Our position was that Sars could pursue tax matters one-on-one with individual taxpayers. ”

Malele said the NTA would“ look at this [process] with a hawk’s eye ”. Funds are paid out and paid on time. “

Phillip Taaibosch, President of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), the largest taxi organization in the country, told Business Day:” I agree with the minister that the R5. 000 is not a payment to taxi companies. It’s not even compensation. It’s just relief. It just says: ‘Sorry for your losses’, but not to make up for the losses. “

Last year Mbalula announced a deadline for April (2021) to receive a subsidy for the taxi industry, but that never came about. When asked, he said the government was “looking into the matter” but did not announce the new deadline.

Mthethwa said the NEF had set up a call center and upgraded its IT systems to be “seamless “Ensure process implementation” of the project.

“We want to complete this process by March. The people from the industry have to come and claim what they are entitled to, ”said Mbalula.