Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has appealed to the leadership of the taxi industry not to embark on a shutdown on Monday.
“We are convinced that there is no basis for any kind of shutdown, and we appeal to the leadership of the taxi industry to discourage any such actions and give space to ongoing discussions. Our engagements with the leadership of the taxi industry have been cordial and constructive and we do not believe there is basis for acrimony,” Mbalula said on Sunday.
The Minister remarks follow the announcement by the Gauteng Provincial arm of the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) of a shutdown as a result of their objection to the Taxi Relief Support announced by government on Friday.
On Sunday, the Minister held a special MINMEC to deliberate on the Taxi Relief Support and the threat of a shutdown by SANTACO in Gauteng.
The meeting was attended by the MECs, Executive Mayors of eThekwini and Ekurhuleni, as well as MMCs from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City Metros.
“We find this action rather unfortunate and counterproductive. Resorting to shutting down services as an expression of disagreement with the quantum of the amount the government is offering the industry as relief support, does nothing for the industry,” the Minister said.
He said a service shutdown will not only negatively affect the working class, but will worsen the devastation of the industry.
“The decision to avail R1.135 billion to the taxi industry as relief support was not an easy one. We literally had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to reach this amount, because we believe the taxi industry is deserving of support as the largest mover of our people.
“We must equally appreciate that government has limited resources, which must equally benefit all other sectors,” Mbalula said.
The Minister said none of the relief packages offered by government equate to compensation for losses, but rather limited support to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have taken note of the industry objections to the model we seek to employ to disburse these funds. We have therefore made a commitment to further engage within government on the industry concerns and provide feedback to the industry on Wednesday.
“We have further committed to the industry that the Tuesday meeting will also provide feedback on their proposal for a 100% loading capacity. We will then proceed to issue Directions to formalise the process and to give clear guidance on how individual operators can access the relief benefit,” the Minister said.
The Department of Transport has made a firm commitment of moving towards a funding model that will ensure that the taxi industry is subsidised.
“This is part of the long-term commitment government is making to the industry, which must be underpinned by an accelerated process to formalise this industry. While others see formalisation as a challenge, there is no doubt that it is central to the long-term objectives of sustainable economic growth
“Our collective effort and focus must be on directing resources towards the long-term sustainability of the industry. We reiterate our commitment to introducing subsidy as part of the long-term empowerment model of the taxi industry,” the Minister said.
On Friday, the department announced that the SA Taxi Finance will put a moratorium in place on vehicle repossessions and also extend their initial one-month repayment holiday by a further two-months.
“This is part of the broader interventions we have made in support of the industry, which include providing personal protective equipment (PPE), amongst others,” the Minister said.