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Taxi Operators Miss Out On Wage Subsidy

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Permit holders may have benefitted instead of their drivers

SESUPO RANTSIMAKO

FRANCISTOWN: Hundreds of taxi operators here have missed out on the COVID-19 wage subsidies because of lack of proper channelling structures, The Botswana Gazette has established.

According to the Chairman of Francistown Taxi Association, Edison Tlhomelang, while the wage subsidy was meant to be benefit employees of businesses affected by the lockdown, the taxi industry missed out also because most operating permits are held by lessors.

In the end, only holders of permits, not lessees, benefited. “It seems the real taxi operators didn’t even bother because only permit holders were eligible to apply and benefit,” Tlhomelang said. “It is worth nothing that when a permit is leased out, the vehicle remains registered in the names of the permit holder.

“But we have met with the transport minister to raise this hiccup and we were given an opportunity to devise a modality that could be used. However, the operators have not shown much enthusiasm. So we should blame ourselves for missing out on the wage subsidy.”

Reached for comment, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Thulaganyo Segokgo, said there could be fraud in this situation because the wage subsidy was meant specifically for employees. “What we know as the ministry is that the permit holder is the one that we refer to as the taxi operator because they are the ones who applied for the permit,” Segokgo said. “If they had employees, they should have indicated that when applying for the subsidy.”

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