The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis that affects everyone. Thousands of commuters were left stranded across Gauteng and some roads have been blockaded. This after the taxi industry decided to down the tools on Monday morning.
The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in Gauteng has rejected government’s R1.1 billion relief fund to alleviate pressure on the industry brought on by COVID-19. Santaco said in a statement they were expecting R20.000 per vehicle instead of R3500.
The Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula said they find this action rather unfortunate and counterproductive. Resorting to shutting down services as an expression of disagreement with the quantum of the amount the government is offering the industry as relief support, does nothing for the industry.
He said the service shutdown will not only negatively affect the working class, but will worsen the devastation of the industry. The taxi industry is in the process of recovery from the combined impact of limited operating hours and reduced loading capacity as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The decision to avail R1,135 billion to the taxi industry as relief support was not an easy one. We literally had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to reach this amount, because we believe the taxi industry is deserving of support as the largest mover of our people. We must equally appreciate that government has limited resources, which must equally benefit all other sectors. It is for this reason that none of the relief packages equate to compensation for losses, but rather limited support to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reality is that there is no more money available beyond what the government has offered” said Mbalula in a statement.
“When two bulls fight, it is the grass that suffers”. The grass here is the commuters that were affected by the taxi strike particularly those who don’t have alternative transportation. Vernac News spoke to÷ Thabo Hlongwa, a security guard, who said he couldn’t go to work today because of the strike. He said that he won’t be paid by his employer because the company that he works for have adopted a no-work, no-pay policy since the start of lockdown.
The government and the taxi industry should resolve their issues because they are not the ones who are badly affected by the strike but commuters. There are people who could end up losing their jobs if they are late at work and the country have a high rate of unemployment. I don’t think this is right time to strike as everyone is hit hard by COVID-19.