Government is working on the modalities of distributing the relief fund for the taxi industry, which has been negatively affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
When the regulations for the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown were first introduced, they prescribed a maximum loading capacity of 50%. This was later changed to a loading capacity of 70%, as the industry was operating at a loss.
According to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, all relevant government departments are in agreement with the provision of relief for the taxi industry.
“These funds are to assist the industry. They cannot place the losses that the operators have incurred as a result of COVID-19,” the Minister said on Thursday.
He made the remarks after his meetings with the leadership of the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) and the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO).
The agenda for both meetings was the lockdown regulations and the mechanisms for State-sponsored financial assistance for the taxi industry.
“The sector and the Department of Transport cleared the air with regards to taxi fares. Both the NTA and SANTACO advised that although fares increases are not out of the ordinary, as they occur annually in most industries, increases should not be unreasonable,” the department said.
The Minister noted that many industries, including government, were affected by COVID-19.
“Transport entities such as the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency and the Airports Company South Africa are also struggling to make ends meet. Government resources are limited, the fiscus is already overstretched,” he said.
Mbalula pledged to place the industry’s concerns before National Treasury and the National Coronavirus Command Council.
The Minister will also consult with members of the executive council responsible for transport and revert to the NTA and SANTACO next week.
Meanwhile SANTACO has announced that fares for all taxis nationwide will go up by between 10% and 25% from 1 July this year.
Commuters have been worried about the strain on their already tight budgets after earlier threats that fares on the Alex-Sandton route would go up a whopping 172%.
That idea was eventually scrapped after a meeting between Santaco and the Gauteng Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo.