Taxi operators will finally be able to apply for Covid-19 relief for the taxi industry from next year, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has confirmed.
After Covid had reached the shores of South Africa last year, the government acknowledged that the taxi industry was among those hit hard by lockdown regulations, agreeing to offer financial support.
The industry was forced to limit vehicle capacity to 50% and later 70%, in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Now the industry is finally set to receive R1,135 billion as a once-off payment to taxi operators, after Parliament allocated the relief funds in July 2020.
Mbalula announced on Monday that the funds will be distributed by the National Empowerment Fund (NEF).
“Differences with the industry on the conditions and the manner with which the funds were to be disbursed gave rise to delays,” the minister said in a statement.
“I am pleased that we have since resolved these differences and have partnered with the NEF to manage the disbursement of the funds on behalf of the department,”
When will applications open?
The Minister indicated that he will launch the application process for operators to access the fund in January 2022.
“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,” Mbalula said.
He said operators had until midnight on 28 February 2022 to apply, as no new applications will be accepted after the date.
How much will operators receive?
According to the directions issued on 2 December by Mbalula, qualifying operators will receive a once-off ex gratia payment of R5,000.
“The relief fund is not intended to compensate for loss of income,” the document states.
The conditions government tabled for the taxi industry to access the funds had initially been rejected.
Sunday Times reported at the time that taxi owners needed R20,000 per operator.
Mbalula also outlined the qualifying criteria for those who will receive their funds, which includes minibus-taxis, metered taxis, and e-hailing operators.
E-hailing companies do not qualify.
Taxi operators will have to be a South African citizen or a permanent resident to qualify.
These operators must be in possession of a valid operating license or a receipt as proof of renewal of an operational license.
They will also need to be registered with the South African Revenue Service (Sars) for income tax.
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