LOCKDOWN REFLECTIONS DAY 87: Taxi strikes
Covid has increased and highlighted (if that were needed) the wealth gap. In rich countries, the millionaires and billionaires have seen massive increases in their wealth this year, while the middle class are only about to start seeing the devastation of this disease on their jobs and industries.
In poorer countries, it is even worse. The tax base has been severely eroded as the middle class are hit by the impact of the disease. But it is the poorest of the poor who will be worst affected.
Today in South Africa, for example, minibus taxi drivers have gone on strike. These taxis take around 12-15 people at a time, and run on very regulated routes. They’re there because the government has failed to delivery adequate public transport. The taxi drivers themselves are under immense pressure to generate income to pay to the taxi bosses. The bosses make the money, and fight amongst themselves for control of routes and taxi ranks. It has the feeling of a gangster paradise at that level.
Under Covid regulations, taxis need to operate at 50-70% occupation. This means less income. They have appealed to the government for support. The government has given them R3,500 per taxi, they were asking for R20,000.
A few weeks back they hiked their fares by 150%. Today, they’re on strike completely. Who gets impacted by this? The poorest people in the country who rely on taxis to get to work and home again, that’s who.
As always, it is the poor who suffer the most.
This is the “gift” capitalism keeps giving us: screwing over the poor. It honestly isn’t working. I’m not saying socialism or communism are the alternative. But I am asserting that capitalism isn’t working. There must be a better way.