IOL - THE STAR / 24 JUNE 2020 - 18.40 / EDITORIAL
On Monday morning thousands of commuters in Gauteng who rely on minibus taxis to ferry them to their jobs and schools were left stranded.
For taxi drivers and owners, the demand to government was simple: “Give us a share of the pie”.
That pie was the more than R500billion in government funding set aside for South Africa to deal with the ts of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Like most businesses, the minibus taxi industry was badly affected by the lockdown.
According to the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), their members have, due to lockdown regulations, been forced to operate at 70% of their capacity and efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 has meant that their
Cumulatively, it’s been estimated by Santaco, that taxi owners lost R25million daily during the Covid-19 lockdown, with fears rising that many owners won’t be able to make vehicle payments at the end of this month.
When Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced a R1.135bn aid package to the industry it came as cold comfort to taxi operators.
The minibus taxi industry should not be in such a precarious state for an industry estimated to be worth R50bn annually, and which about 69% of South Africa’s households make use of daily.
If the ANC government was serious about black economic empowerment, perhaps it should have started with the minibus taxi industry. It could have started with the value chains which supply the taxi industry.
But the industry which grew out of necessity, and despite the apartheid government, has always been suspicious of government regulations.
It’s for that reason that government programmes to aid the taxi industry have come to nought.
Despite its lofty goals, announced in 2006, government’s taxi recapitalisation programme has had little effect in removing unroadworthy taxis off our roads.
The anger from the minibus taxi industry is justified. While the government has poured billions into a bottomless pit to bail out a failing airline, taxi owners, who employ thousands, face the real prospects of their businesses being destroyed.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER