Taxi industry expert Solly Msiza says it is now three months since the country went into lockdown and there still is no sign of government’s intentions to help the minibus taxi industy financially.
He was responding to reports of anxiety among many taxis operators – many who fear losing vehicles as financial lenders now threaten to reposess vehicles as many owners are said to be behind on their installments.
“Well it is fine that government has promised to intervene and offer some sort of relief funding but when is that. You see, a lot of these people complain of threats and calls they receive daily on possible attachment of their vehicles because of Covid-19 lockdown that has crippled the industry,” said Msiza.
In his view, talks about the taxi industry today should not be about the sector still begging for government assistance but should be about how government should be channeling funds to help it sustain itself as it has done with state owned entities (SOEs). Since the county went into level 3 of the lockdown adjusted stage, Msiza has been on a roadshow with the taxi industry to check on the status of position of the taxi industry – having had some meetings with the Gauteng provincial leadership of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in the first week of June. Msiza believes that talks about subsidies for the industy should have been concluded long time ago. He predicts a bleak future for the industy should no help be forthcoming from government.
“I can tell you now; many people are going to lose their vehicles this month before June comes to an end. We deal with them and they say the three month payment holiday period that some banks had given them is over,” said Msiza.
At the time of going to press, many taxi associations were waiting for a report back from from the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) and South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) national leadership structures on the extent of progress between Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on a possible Covid-19 coronavirus taxi industry relief fund.
Ayanda Allie Paine, spokesperson for Minister Mbalula, has maintained that announcement would be made in June but could not deny or confirm if they were waiting for end of the month to announce the fund meant for the assistance of financially strained taxi operators.
“I really do not know anything about end of June. What I know and can confirm is that the Minister has promised to make an announcement on a taxi relief fund and that is that,” said Allie Paine.