Government cannot offer more than R1bn relief to taxi industry: Mbalula

22 June 2020 - 15:46 By Nomahlubi Jordaan

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says the government is not able to provide more than the R1bn relief it is offering the taxi industry.

On Monday, commuters were left stranded across Gauteng when the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) took to the streets in protest over the relief.

Roads were barricaded and a bus was hijacked as Santaco demanded R20,000 per vehicle.

Speaking during a media briefing in Soshanguve, east of Pretoria, Mbalula said the strike was “counterproductive”.

“There is no one who is going to win out of this. If we calculate the loss that the taxi industry has incurred as a result of the shutdown, it goes to billions,” he said.

“I cannot say the money is enough — it is a 'relief'.”

The minister said his plans for the industry included formalising it to allow taxi drivers, marshals and owners to enjoy the same benefits as workers. His plans would also see commuters pay lower taxi fares.

“We’ve got to change the taxi industry so we don’t find ourselves here after many years again. The people who have suffered [as a result of the strike] are us black people, the majority of whom are using taxis to go to work,” said Mbalula.

“I need the taxi industry and they need me too. We can’t resolve our issues by blocking roads.

“I can’t go beyond R5,000 [relief per taxi]. There are other industries that have closed down because of Covid-19. At no stage did I, or government, undermine the efforts of the taxi industry in terms of supporting preservation of life for our people.

“I wish to reiterate: we are in a position to provide what we can provide and we can’t go beyond that. There will be no money beyond that. We can’t take decisions in this country because we are being intimidated — otherwise there will be no government.”