Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula announced a R1.1 billion fund to assist drivers of minibus taxis, cabs operators, and e-hailing services whose businesses were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing national lockdown.
Applications are now open and Mbalula estimated that 227 000 taxi operators were each expected to receive once-off relief to the value of R5 000.
Almost 70% of all South African households use minibus taxis, and according to SA Taxi, the South African minibus taxi industry draws an estimated R5 billion annually in revenue.
However, the industry was hit by a national lockdown which curbed travel, as well as work-from-home arrangements during the pandemic.
Mbalula said the revenue loss during the lockdown presented an economic challenge, with transport operators experiencing “an unexpected shortfall in their finances”.
“Almost 20% or more of the taxi industry experienced total loss of income, particularly the long-distance and cross-border operators as a result of the closure of international borders and the prohibition of inter-provincial travel,” said Mbalula.
Mbalula said the disbursement process served as a stepping stone towards the transformation and formalisation of the taxi industry and would go a long way to standardising role of the taxi industry in broader public transport.
The department said operators must have a valid operating licence or a receipt as proof of renewal and must be registered with the South African Revenue Service as a taxpayer to get the money.
“The disbursement… will be done through the National Empowerment Fund (NEF). We have appointed the NEF as the implementing agent of this process and they have worked tirelessly to put systems in place to enable the release of funds to thousands of eligible operators,” Mbalula said.
Minibus taxi operators can apply on the Department of Transport’s website, or via telephone (0800 201 971, toll free) and SMS (45864).
Applications will close in March.