Taxi strike over COVID-19 relief funds
The National Taxi Alliance (NTA) led a March to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s office and the presidency in Tshwane at the Union Buildings this morning to issue a memorandum of demands which include fast-tracking the payout of the Covid-19 relief fund.
Taxi drivers and operators gathered at the old Putco depot in Marabastad in Pretoria at 9 am, they proceeded to the Department of transport before heading to the Union Buildings.
The industry was hit hard by Covid-19 and is still recovering from the economic burden caused by the lockdown. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced earlier this year that R1.8 billion had been availed for the industry, to try help it navigate the global pandemic.
The NTA accused the government of not seeing to their demands as an industry. In a statement, the organisation said among their concerns was the Covid-19 relief fund which had been promised for the benefit of the deserving taxi drivers and operators.
“The reason for this, in summary, is that we have been deprived a freedom of association which is enriched in chapter two section of our constitution as South African and secondly, the president and the minister had promised the tax industry a relief fund of R1.135 billion and the money seems to not be not coming forth,” said Theo Malele.
He went on to say that this is not a one-day strike as they have instructed their lawyers to file papers, they are taking the department to the High Court.
The strike has resulted in commuters being affected as no transport will take them to their destinations. Thandiwe Nxumalo, a Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) student was left stranded in the morning as there was no transport to take her to school.
“I woke up early because I had a test to write only to find out that there are no taxis today, I don’t know what I am going to do,” said Nxumalo.
The department of education in Gauteng expressed concern about the possible impact of the taxi strike on pupils writing matric exams.
“Unfortunately, we will experience such an inconvenience at this critical time of examinations,” it stated in a statement.
“Parents are encouraged to assist and make alternative transport arrangements, especially for matric candidates. All our chief invigilators are empowered to manage such situations including facilitation of necessary concessions. Candidates must ensure that they reach exam centres”, the statement reads.
The department of education had to make an alternative for matric pupils who are writing their exams. Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the pupils would be allowed to arrive a maximum of an hour late if affected by the taxi strike. They can also write at the nearest school.