- The R1-billion relief fund rejected by the taxi industry is "safe" in government coffers, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says.
- He Mbalula said the rejected funds wouldn't be taken back by National Treasury.
- The taxi industry is not subsidised by government and operators are currently being crippled by Covid-19.
The 1.135-billion government relief fund rejected by the taxi industry is "safe" in government coffers.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula told the nation that the rejected funds were with his department and that there were no plans to send them back to National Treasury.
Mbalula promised that the funds would finally be distributed among taxi operators after some negotiations with the industry.
"We are discussing what must happen to it. It must go to the taxi industry at the end. We don't want it to go to Treasury. There are few things we are differing about, but we are discussing with the taxi industry on the matter to look at better mechanisms on how we can distribute that money.
"At the end of the day, it must go to the industry and probably could alleviate some of the pressure that is there in the taxi industry. We are not afraid of the taxi industry. We are guided by rationale (sic) in the decisions that we take. We do that based on the balance of evidence before us in terms of each situation confronted with.
"There was a jumping up and down and promise of defiance of rule and regulations to fill up to 100 percent. Government has no appetite to engage in a battle of that sort during Covid-19," Mbalula said.
He said the taxi industry was not subsidised by government and operators were currently being hit twice as hard by Covid-19.
"They are not covered with the relief means that we presented to the nation. If taxi operators had received the same relief packages received by bus companies, government would not be having discussions of 100 percent loading capacity.
"We do have plans to regulate, formalise and professionalise the taxi industry. We are nowhere close to where we want to be. We a want cheaper, accessible and safer mode of public transport. We have been extinguishing flames coming at our direction".
Mbalula said, if taxis were ordered to load at 50 percent, they would become extinct.
He added that the taxi industry would perish if government continued engaging the industry with the 50% and 70% loading capacity.