Long-distance taxi operators in Mahikeng, North West, are requesting financial relief from the government as the extended lockdown has compromised their business. They also want better communication from the Transport Ministry on how best to mitigate this revenue shortfall.

Two weeks into the national lockdown, long-distance taxi operators are already counting their losses. Unlike their local counterparts, lockdown regulations prevent them from operating at all.  This has completely cut off their source of income.

They claim the authorities are saying nothing on how they will be compensated or provided with any relief.

In the video below, the SABC provides some guidelines on how a lockdown works:

67-year-old Boitumelo Tlhagiso operates two long-distance taxis that transport commuters between Mahikeng and Rustenburg. She had no income for the past two weeks, because of the national lockdown. Now, she does not know where to get help.

‘I don’t know what I’m going to do; I am also sick. I am always in hospital so I don’t know what I’m going to do because I must pay the driver, I must pay the kombi at the bank so they phone me every day to come and pay for this kombi.”

Following the two-week extension of the national lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday, Tlhagiso’s losses will pile up.

“In the past two weeks, I lost R12 000 and if I estimate that money, it’s R12 000 in the past two weeks since our kombis are at home. If the government can allow us, to help us with the gloves and the mask to give our clients; we’ll be happy. That’s what I want.”

In the video below, the taxi industry expresses unhappiness with the lockdown regulations. 

Long-distance taxi operators want the government to intervene. BOLLTA Taxi Association vice chairperson, Mbuti Makutle says they want to know if they will be getting compensated.

“The minister says he spoke to the banks so that we may not pay for a certain period and other people are going to be compensated. But to us, no one is talking about us. We want to know whether are we going to be compensated or what. No one comes to us and shows us the real thing in black and white that we are not going to pay for three months.”

‘Government not coming to the party’

SANTACO chairperson in the North West, Serame Sebego, says banks have agreed to waive premium payments for the next three months, for taxi operators.

“The government is not coming to the party so SANTACO national office has established a relief fund for the operators. We have engaged all the stakeholders to contribute towards the relief fund and if the government completely doesn’t come to assist the taxi operators, then SANTACO will take it upon its shoulders to assist the operators and the administration staff.”

Sebego says discussions between SANTACO and government regarding assistance are still ongoing.

– Reporting by Keadimilwe Moalusi