Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

The National Taxi Association (NTA), the country's second-largest taxi association, said it is speaking to financial institutions to allow taxi operators to pay less in their instalments over three months, as the industry continues to suffer the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NTA is negotiating for operators to pay 50% of their instalments in July, 65% in August, 75% in September, and then revert to 100% thereafter.

We believe that this arrangement will provide a feasible recovery plan for both the taxi industry and the financial institutions,” said NTA national spokesperson Theo Malele.

“We have taken this initiative with a greater understanding that the devastating effects of the Covid-19 to both the economy and social life in our country cannot be blamed on government, corporate or the taxi industry for that matter and the NTA commits itself to working with all progressive forces in stemming the tide of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has said he has engaged taxi financier SA Taxi Finance to put a moratorium in place on vehicle repossessions and also extend their initial one-month repayment holiday by a further two-months.

“This is part of the broader interventions we have made in support of the industry, which include providing personal protective equipment (PPE), among others. While our plans to host a national taxi Indaba were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, we remain committed to placing on the table a long-term taxi industry empowerment model, for discussion with all stakeholders,” Mbalula said.

“This model will outline the tangible economic support government intends to provide to the industry, and the critical trade-offs that have to be made both by government and industry, to ensure its successful implementation.”

On Monday, about 45,000 taxi operators, who are members of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), abandoned their vehicles and embarked on a one-day strike, intimidated fellow motorists and blocked highways, leaving commuters and workers across Gauteng stranded, to protest the conditions attached to the R1.14bn Covid-19 relief fund for the taxi industry.

The stringent conditions included the taxi operations must be formally registered as a business entity and that the registered business must have a banking account into which the relief allowance will be paid.

The conditions also state that these businesses must be registered for income tax and other applicable taxes related to running a business; and that the registration process includes registration of employees with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), the Compensation Commission and for the skills development levy.

The businesses need to be in possession of a valid operating licence or a receipt as proof of an application for an operating licence. These receipts must have been issued before February 28. The SA Revenue Service (Sars) will be the implementing agency to register and administer the relief to the taxi industry.

The one-day strike left thousands of commuters and workers stranded. This, despite the government relaxing lockdown regulations on June 1 to allow for more than eight-million people to return to work and offset the effects of the coronavirus on embattled economy, expected to contract by 7.2% in 2020.

The taxi industry says the R1.14bn relief fund is a drop in the ocean, considering the losses they have incurred during the lockdown, due to the 70% loading capacity, and a ban on interprovincial and cross border travel.

Mbalula has put his foot down, however, saying increasing the amount is “simply not an option”.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za

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