Image via BrandSA
Image via BrandSA
Not long after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that the informal taxi industry would now benefit from a R1 billion relief package set aside by government, the South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) have said that the amount suggested is far below what they were hoping for.
Mbalula said on Friday 19 June that while the approximate R5 000 set to be distributed to eligible taxi operators who apply is not enough to mitigate the enormous losses suffered by the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, that it will at least assist them with some running costs.
Speaking to eNCA. Santaco spokesperson Thabiso Molelekwa said that the R5 000 quoted by Mbalula was more likely to end up being R1 000 per operator.
“If nothing is done in terms an intervening process, in the next 6-8 months, between 30-45 thousand taxi operators will lose their vehicles to repossessions,” he said.
He said that the minimum that operators need at this stage is closer to R20 000, as Santaco had previously stated but which was deemed by Mbalula to be totally unfeasible.
He said that Santaco will engage with Mbalula and his department and put alternative offers on the table.
“There could be other alternatives that we will put in front of the minister, some of which I am not at liberty to disclose at the moment,” said Molelekwa.
“But we believe that if properly exploited, they could serve as an opportunity to augment the current situation we find ourselves in.”
He said that the industry is losing R25 million per day, mainly due to the fact that taxis are only able to operate to a 70% maximum in terms of passenger capacity. The nationwide lockdown meant that costly fewer people were using their services to get to work and the losses have thus been unprecedented.
This, Molelekwa says, has left Santaco with no choice but to implement fare hikes from 1 July, although he said that they would be fair and far lower than the 300% increase initially proposed.
“We have already announced that there will be fair increases from 1 July. Provinces have been busy trying to determine the percentages by which they will increase their fares. We hope to announce what those fare increases will be soon, but are pleased to announce that they are fare.”