There is an opportunity for wheels operators to supply essential-service transport services through funding from FirstRand’s SPIRE intervention and relief effort, which aims to assist government and its partners in mitigating the impact of COVID-9.

FirstRand has so far allocated an anchor investment of R100 million to SPIRE – funded by the FirstRand Foundations, FNB and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB). SPIRE is working closely with, and in support of, the Solidarity Fund and other industry and sector initiatives.

Commenting on SPIRE’s vision, Mary Vilakazi, FirstRand COO, said: “As a large financial services group, we can effectively augment the current Government and other national effort initiatives. Our platforms, client relationships and payment channels can be scaled rapidly.”

According to a letter sent out to SATSA members, at this stage, RMB is looking for quotations for transportation of hospital staff between hospitals and accommodation establishments.

Currently, vehicles with a capacity of up to 15 or 30 passengers – running at a 70% capacity – are being considered. The distance travelled between these facilities is an average of six to eight kilometres.

This is a philanthropic project, with possible government funding and RMB has expressed hope that pricing will therefore largely be cost-based – to assist in supporting this initiative and to keep some industry jobs. 

Essential-service permits for the transport operators will be required once a quote is accepted.