Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has officially launched the R1.14-billion one-off ex gratia Covid-19 Taxi Relief Fund (TRF), with qualifying operators expected to receive about R5 000 each.
The TRF is a financial support programme by the Department of Transport (DoT) in collaboration with the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the taxi industry. It is intended for all minibus taxi and metered taxi operators, as well as e-hailing partners.
The loss of revenue during the lockdown for the various transport modes presented an economic challenge as transport operators experienced an unexpected shortfall in their finances. The taxi industry was no exception to this reality.
“Today, we officially launch the disbursement of the TRF, meant to ease the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the taxi industry. Following engagements with the taxi industry and taking due regard to relevant matters raised by the courts, we therefore Gazetted the conditions for operators to qualify for this support on December 2, 2021.
“The relief funding is intended to mitigate the negative financial impact of Covid-19 on the taxi industry, without compensating for the loss of income, but rather based on the principle of an ex gratia payment,” Mbabula noted.
To qualify for this support, operators must be a South African citizen or a permanent resident and they must be in possession of a valid operating licence or a receipt as proof of renewal issued on or before the date of the declaration of the national state of disaster. This, however, is applicable only in instances where the operating licence has not been subsequently issued by the relevant Provincial Regulatory Entity.
Furthermore, the applicant must be registered with the South African Revenue Service as a taxpayer.
“We believe the disbursement process we are launching today is a stepping stone towards the transformation and formalisation of the taxi industry. While this is a one-off ex gratia payment, it is a demonstration of the seriousness with which we take the role of the taxi industry in the broader public transport value chain.”
Mbalula said the disbursement of these funds to individual operators would be done through the NEF.
“We anticipate that, if we are to reach all eligible operators calculated on the basis of the 137 000 legal minibus taxis, 25 000 metered taxis, 1 900 crossborder taxis and about 63 188 e-hailing partners on our system, each operator will qualify for a quantum of R5 000," he pointed out.
Applicants will have to complete an online application on the DoT's website, or speak to a call centre agent for assistance.