JOHANNESBURG | The Estonian electronic ride-hailing service has encouraged its South African bolt drivers to apply for the Covid 19 R1.1bn Taxi Relief Fund, which will be distributed by the South African government. The fund, which is intended to assist taxi drivers affected by the Covid 19 pandemic, was announced earlier this year by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
The mobility company encouraged its 25 000 South African Bolt drivers to take advantage of this grant, which is intended to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on taxis and other public and private transport operators. Bolt drivers who qualify, are also included in the list of beneficiaries. The list also includes taxi drivers, cab drivers, and other e-hailing drivers who were affected by the pandemic across the country.
Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar, Bolt’s head of public policy for Southern Africa, announced that the company appreciated the government’s efforts in assisting the many public transportation drivers affected by the pandemic, encouraging Bolt drivers to participate in the grant applications.
“Bolt encourages all qualifying e-hailing drivers to apply for their payment from the TRF by the 28 February 2022 deadline to the National Empowerment Fund and Department of Transport, so that payments can be made and received by the end of March this year,” said Gasnolar.
Bolt says that it had engaged with the government to consider the plight of e-hailing drivers at the start of the Covid 19 lockdown restrictions in 2020. The company stated that it appreciated the government’s initiatives to assist drivers, as well as its recognition of e-hailing drivers as “an important mode of transportation” distinct from bus companies, taxi operators, and other private transportation businesses.
“Bolt engaged extensively with the Department of Transport during the initial stages of the lockdown in 2020, encouraging the Department to include e-hailing drivers as essential service providers so that they could continue to offer their services and earn an income,” he said.
Mbalula stated that the Department of Transport estimated that 20 percent or more of the taxi industry experienced total income loss, particularly those who provided long-distance and cross-border transportation services.
“Almost 20% or more of the taxi industry experienced a total loss of income, particularly the long-distance and cross-border operators as a result of the closure of international borders and the prohibition of interprovincial travel,” said Mbalula.
The Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula announced that to qualify for the Taxi relief grant, operators are required to have a valid operating licence or a receipt as proof of renewal and must be registered with the SARS as a taxpayer.