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South Africa’s Economic Hub Grinds to a Halt

A strike by South Africa’s minibus taxi drivers over what they say is inadequate coronavirus relief funds has disrupted the return of scores of thousands of people to work. Taxi operators in the economic hub of Gauteng province, which includes the city of Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, Monday morning blocked roads and refused to transport workers. In Pretoria, there were reports of police using rubber bullets to disperse protesting taxi drivers. The country’s taxi industry was among the sectors hit hard by the economic effects of the nationwide lockdown that started at the end of March to fight the spread of COVID-19. Millions of South Africans rely on minibus taxis to commute to work and will need the service as the country eases lockdown levels in order to return the economy back to full operation. The minibus taxis have been restricted in the hours they can work the number of passengers they can carry. The taxi industry has rejected the government’s allocation of about $76 million in relief funds, claiming it is too little to address the industry’s losses.