Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

TRANSPORT Minister Fikile Mbalula has officially launched the R1.14-billion one-off ex gratia Covid-19 Taxi Relief Fund (TRF), with qualifying operators expected to receive about R5 000 each.

The TRF is a financial support programme by the Department of Transport (DoT) in collaboration with the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the taxi industry.

The TRF is intended for all minibus taxi and metered taxi operators, as well as e-hailing partner

According to Mbalula, at least 227 000 operators are expected to receive an estimated R5 000 in once-off relief.

“We believe that the disbursement process we are launching today is a stepping-stone towards the transformation and formalisation of the taxi industry.  While this is a once-off ex gratia payment, it is a demonstration of the seriousness with which we take the role of the taxi industry in the broader public transport value chain,” Mbalula said.

The R1.1 billion relief fund was allocated by Parliament as early as July 2020. However, disagreements with the industry led to a delay in its disbursement, which have now been resolved.

“The disbursement… will be done through the National Empowerment Fund (NEF).  We have appointed the NEF as the implementing agent of this process and they have worked tirelessly to put systems in place to enable the release of funds to thousands of eligible operators,” Mbalula said.

“The application process of the relief fund is premised on a web-based system, which will be accessed via the [Transport] department’s website. Applications will be completed online by the operator or via the assistance of a call centre agent.

“The call centre is reachable via a toll-free number and operators will be able to either call in or send an SMS with their Identification Number, and a call centre agent will call the operator to assist telephonically with the online application,” Mbalula said.

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