The Faraday Taxi Association is the only one in Gauteng that refuses to break the law, load their vehicles to 100% capacity and travel across provincial borders.
On Sunday, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) declared that they will return to 100% loading capacity and interprovincial travel from Monday. The Faraday Taxi Association, however, released a statement that they would adhere to the government's directive of 70% load capacity until further notice.
The statement released by Santaco and NTA said they have decided to "take the bull by its horns" after negotiations with the government failed. They said this decision was due to the postponement of two separate meetings by Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, to discuss both the lockdown regulations and the state support offered by the government.
As the months-long nationwide lockdown continues, the taxi associations are concerned that the impact on the industry will be immense, with many owners and operators struggling to earn enough to survive. Thabisho Molelekwa, the national spokesperson for Santaco, said that many owners are concerned that they will not be able to meet their vehicle repayments on 1 July 2020 when their payment holiday ends. Many are not even able to cover their fuel costs.
Santaco also stated that the industry is losing around R25 million per day. They believe that in the next six to eight months, as much as 45% of taxi owners could face having their vehicles repossessed. The NTA has called for members to increase their fares by up to 40% to cope with the reduced loads and increased costs of sanitising their vehicles and purchasing personal protective gear to keep Covid-19 from spreading.
Molelekwa said the industry is also outraged at the "slap in the face" by governments R1,135 billion relief fund, and that it was to be administered by SARS. The associations wanted R20 000 for each taxi, but the fund would only deliver R5 000 each. Mbalula agreed that the fund would be too little, but that government doesn't have more money to offer them, stating that most sectors only received R350 million in support.
In a statement, Mbalula said, "While we have expressed support for a review of loading capacity to 100% until the current directions have been revised, the legal loading capacity is 70% and enforceable by law enforcement authorities." But, Santaco said they will go forward with 100% capacity and interprovincial travel without requiring permits from travellers "whether the minister approves it or not."
NTA general secretary, Alpheus Mlalazi, expressed his disproval, stating that it is discrimination for the government to allow aircraft to travel between provinces but not taxi's.
Speaking to News24 at the Bree Taxi Rank, Mthandeni Ndlovu said that, while the industry is in bad shape, the Faraday Taxi Association "will keep loading 10 passengers until the minister issues out a directive to go back to 100%."