South Africa, Pretoria – Relief funds earmarked for the taxi industry to make up for loses suffered during the hard lockdown had not yet been paid, the National Taxi Alliance has said.
The organisation yesterday delivered a memorandum to the Department of Transport in the CBD, received by Deputy Minister Dikeledi Magadzi on behalf of Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
General secretary Alpheus Mlalazi said they had to embark on a day of action because they had been constantly snubbed and ignored when raising their grievances regarding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You have consistently paid lip service to the issues impacting the taxi industry, and in correspondence to you in two separate letters we demonstrated our willingness to work with you and the department, but you chose to ignore our plea,” he told the deputy minister.
Mlalazi said inter-provincial taxi operators were still battling because they were loading taxis at 70%; and cross-border operators must also be compensated for the loss of income.
“He (Mbalula) must pay out these funds. They are relief funds for emergency times like these. The funds must exclude e-hailing because at the time of announcement they were not legislated, and we do not recognise them.”
Mlalazi said the requirements to qualify for the relief fund had also been too stringent and must be relaxed to benefit operators.
Other gripes included the recent National Taxi Lekgotla, from which the organisation withdrew following an impasse. “You invited different bodies which were granted speaking rights, but we were not given any platform. We were not included, and that’s a shame and resulted in us withdrawing from the lekgotla.
““We demand that you halt all processes that deliver the taxi industry to the highest bidder, where taxi operators will lose their licences and not be able to operate. We demand you publish the subsidy models that will benefit the industry.”
Mlalazi said they saw the reports of violence and hijacking purported to be meted out by their members early yesterday, but denied them. He said there were outside elements looking to disrupt their peaceful protest by causing chaos and shifting the narrative.
The organisation’s spokesperson, Theo Malele, also said they distanced themselves from the incidents.
“They were detractors trying to shift the focus from our campaign to get relief for the issues of our members. This is not the first time we have marched, our members always conduct themselves in a disciplined manner.”
The organisation marched to the Union Buildings, where Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Thembi Siweya, accepted a memorandum containing similar demands.
Siweya assured them that President Cyril Ramaphosa would respond within 14 days.