- The battle between the government and taxi drivers over Covid-19 relief continues
- Protests over the issue broke out in Mpumalanga's capital city, Nelspruit
- This comes as Minister Mbalula defends the decision to prevent taxis from operating at 100% capacity
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says he is left scratching his head over the stalemate between the government and the taxi industry.
Briefly.co.za reported that the minister had called on operators to adhere to laws limiting the number of passengers transported during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This latest issue is just one of many with the sector previously snubbing the offered R1 billion relief fund put in place by the government.
Taxi bosses had insisted that at least R20 000 compensation per taxi is needed to offset the impact of the lockdown regulations.
The minister recently droppedout of a meeting meant to negotiate with the industry and the failure to resolve the dispute has seen clashes sparking in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.
Police were called to the scene after a protest saw roads blocked and rubble set alight by angered civilians in the capital city's central business district.
Rubber bullets were used to disperse the crowd that had gathered to challenge the limitations imposed on public transport.
Newzroom Afrika reporter Mweli Masilela had been shot after getting caught between police and protestors while covering the situation in a nearby township:
"Just got shot while covering the taxi shutdown in KaNyamazane in Mpumalanga. Police fired rubber bullets just a few minutes after arriving in the area to disperse taxi drivers who were blocking the road leading to the township."
Commenting on the sticky situation, Mbalula said the government had no obligation to compensate taxi drivers but had still implemented the relief fund:
"Do we appreciate the difficulties facing the taxi industry? Yes, we do appreciate. What are we going to do about it? We are scratching our heads every day. That is why we introduced a taxi relief fund."
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