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R1bn set aside to help taxi industry - Mbalula

Taxi drivers have been calling on the department to intervene for months now to help them cover the losses due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Taxis at a Gauteng taxi rank being disinfected as part of measures to protect public transport commuters from contracting COVID-19. Picture: @vm_africa/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - A relief package of over R1.1 billion has been approved for the taxi industry.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Friday morning unveiled taxi relief support and an economic stimulus for transport entities including aviation, maritime and rail transport.

"R1 billion has been set aside to assist the taxi industry. This relief must be equally looked at through a long term view through the opportunity created by the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve long-term sustainability of the industry through formalisation and ultimately subsidisation. We need to subsidise the taxi industry."

Mbalula said that getting relief support for the taxi industry was a difficult process involving extensive lobbying and convincing the relevant authorities on the importance and need for this fund.

To soften the blow of the Disaster Management Act regulations introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19, taxi relief support will be provided to all taxi operators, irrespective of affiliation.

Payment dates, on which relief funds from the R1.135 billion package will be paid, are yet to be announced.

Minister Mbalula said that financial relief to the industry would be in the form of a once-off payment to operators.

Mbalula said that taxi businesses must be registered for income tax and other applicable taxes related to running a business in South Africa.

Mbalula said that all beneficiaries would have to be South African citizens.

The department said that the taxi industry was responsible for about 15.6 million passenger journeys on a daily basis.

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