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Taxi, alcohol sectors raise job worries as latest COVID-19 regulations take hold

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended the sale dispensing and distribution of alcohol with immediate effect in an effort to reduce the burden at hospitals ahead of a coronavirus peak in the country.

Commuters wait to enter their taxi at Bree taxi rank in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP

DURBAN - Some alcohol traders and members of the taxi industry are concerned that government's further plans to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country could affect their livelihoods.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol with immediate effect in an effort to reduce the burden at hospitals ahead of a coronavirus peak in the country.

The Disaster Management Act has also been amended to allow minibus drivers to load 100% capacity for short-distance trips and 70% for inter-provincial commuters.

The National Taxi Alliance said that this was not feasible.

Parliamentarians have described the latest regulations for the taxi industry during the lockdown as a fine balancing act, which will save lives and keep the economy going.

However, the National Taxi Alliance does not agree, saying there are other factors that have to be considered.

Spokesperson Theo Malele said: “If government insists that they be at 70%, then they need to subsidise for the 30% to make up for the losses and also we pass the toll gates. Where do we get that money from?

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Malele said that government’s announcement that it cannot give the industry more than the R1 billion does not hold water.

“The R1 billion is a fluke.”

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula was expected to meet with drivers to discuss a way forward.

Meanwhile, the South African Liquor Brands Association said that many businesses would be hit hard by the alcohol ban, making it difficult for them to keep their employees.

South African Liquor Brands Association spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said the ban on the sale of alcohol will negatively affect the liquor industry across its value-chain.

“We employ around one million people and in the time that we were not trading, at least 100,000 of those jobs were affected.”

A woman, who works in the sector, said the reinstatement of the ban has left her uncertain about her job.

“People’s are losing their livelihoods. Some of us take pay cuts. Most of us are working for rent and transport money to get to work.”

Key players within the industry claim they were not consulted on government’s decision to reinstate the ban on the sale of alcohol and are currently meeting to work out a way forward.

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