Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has appealed to the taxi industry to call off Monday’s planned Gauteng strike in response to government’s coronavirus relief support for taxi owners. Mbalula says government cannot go beyond its offer of R1.1 billion.
The organisation wants government to increase the relief package to R10 billion.
SANTACO says government’s package won’t be sufficient for the entire taxi industry.
“Top Six will be shutting down operations as from Monday. We felt very strong that the R1.1 is a slap in our face. We are shutting down Joburf as planned before. We are shutting down everything. We are also negotiating with our counterpart’s santaco that we need to close every rank. The minister is not doing justice,” Top Six Spokesperson, George Molekwa, has said.
In a statement, government is describing SANTACO Gauteng’s decision as 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. A service shutdown will not only negatively affect the working class, but will worsen the devastation of the industry. The taxi industry is in the process of recovery from the combined impact of limited operating hours and reduced loading capacity as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads the statement.
In the video below, Mbalula announces relief for the taxi industry:
Government says arriving at a decision to give the industry relief support wasn’t easy.
“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. It is for this reason that none of the relief packages equate to compensation for losses, but rather limited support to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reality is that there is no more money available beyond what the government has offered,” it says.
Provincial transport MECs, Executive Mayors of Ethekwini and Ekurhuleni and MMCs from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City Metros held talks on Sunday to discuss this.
Minister Mbalula explains government’s quagmire in the audio below:
Eastern Cape won’t go on strike
SANTACO in the Eastern Cape has confirmed that it is not part of Monday’s strike. The provincial wing says there are negotiations that will be held between their association and the national department of transport, which are going to give an indication on whether or not the Eastern Cape province will follow suit. The association says it will embark on a two-week strike should it deem fit.
“SANTACO in the Eastern Cape is not part of the Gauteng strike. The strike that is coming tomorrow will be for the Gauteng province only however we anticipate our own strike which is very much pending on the outcomes of the meeting that are held between the national office and the national department of transport. You will remember that the least paid driver is getting R 4 000 per month so taking R4 000 from R 5 000, you are left with R1 000, which is also not enough for the tax that we are expected to pay from the very same amount not to mention our other costs so it is not enough,” says Lungiswa Mabhija, who is SANTACO provincial chairperson.
Taxis have had a 30% reduction in the loading passenger capacity due to COVID-19 lockdown rules. The prohibition of inter-provincial travel, closure of borders and restricted operation times have had a devastating impact on the industry.
On Friday, the government announced that 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. The move is part of government’s efforts to support the industry, which ensures that millions of South African reach their destination every day. – Additional reporting by Xolani Sitshinga