Durban - While Gauteng commuters were left stranded on Monday as taxi operators embarked on a strike, KwaZulu-Natal taxi bosses have said they will meet on Wednesday to decide whether to join the strike.
The taxi industry and Transport Department are at loggerheads over conditions the department has set for the industry to access R1.135 billion in relief funds. The conditions include:
- The businesses must be registered for income and other applicable taxes related to running a business.
- The taxi operations must be formally registered as business entities.
- The businesses must have business banking accounts into which the relief allowance will be paid.
- Employees must be registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), the Compensation Commission and for the Skills Development Levy.
- They must be in possession of a valid operating licence or a receipt as proof of application for the licence from before February 28.
Santaco KZN manager Sifiso Shangase said they would hold a provincial executive committee meeting on Wednesday to deal with problems they faced in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions, and the issue of striking. They would also discuss the violence that has plagued the industry in the past few weeks and the increase in fares next month. Shangase said the associations would determine whether they would increase their fares in August or September.
Shangase said the restrictions under Covid-19 meant that some taxi bosses struggle to make ends meet. “Some taxis make only R100 a day,” he said, adding that taxi owners were still required to keep paying their debts.
“We want to help in the fight against the coronavirus. The industry has been trying hard to co-operate.” Many associations had begun giving taxi drivers food parcels.
Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group co-ordinator Mervyn Abrahams said the increase in fares would eat into people's decreasing budgets. Using the minimum wage of R3 321.60 as an assumption of what people are paid, Abrahams said in Pietermaritzburg they spend about R1120 on transport a month.
He said there were cases where transport could use up as much as 51% of a person’s salary. Because poor people have no control over electricity and transport costs, they often cut down on things they had control over, like food, which would lead to malnutrition. Food and proper nutrition were important in the fight against Covid-19, Abrahams said.