Taxi operators – including minibus-taxis, metered taxis, and e-hailing partners – are in line for a massive windfall of more than R1 billion after the industry and transport department finally agreed on the criteria to qualify for the COVID-19 relief.
“I am pleased that we have since resolved these differences and have partnered with the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) to manage the disbursement of the funds on behalf of the Department,” said Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula in a communique on Monday.
Last year in July, Parliament allocated R1,135 billion Taxi Relief Fund.
The once-off payment to taxi operators was to provide relief for the Covid-19 impact on the sector, as a consequence of restrictions that prevented the industry from operating during the strict lockdowns.
However, squabbling over who and how much they should get went on for more than a year before an agreement could be reached.
On Monday Mbalula said following the agreement of who qualifies for relief the application for the relief funds would begin in January.
“In January 2022, I will officially launch the application process for operators to access the fund,” said Mbalula.
“At this launch, we will provide details of the application process, which will enable the department, with the support of the NEF, to start accepting applications from individual operators.
“The application window will remain open until midnight on 28 February 2022. No new application will be accepted after this date.”
All taxi operators who meet the prescribed conditions are eligible to apply for the fund.
“This includes minibus-taxis, metered taxis and e-hailing partners, but not the e-hailing companies,” said Mbalula.
Two years ago, there were about 140 000 licenced mini-bus taxis working across the country.
The conditions which taxi operators must comply with in order to access the funds include that they must be South African citizens or permanent residents, must be in possession of a valid operating licence and must be registered as a taxpayer with the South African Revenue Services.
“The application process and the call centre will be driven by a team of young people, recruited from the ranks of unemployed youth and trained by the NEF,” said Mbalula.
“This project will provide them with job opportunities and skills to ready them for the job market beyond the project.”