Lockdown or not, taxi industry will operate as usual: Santaco
Boy Zondi, the South African Taxi Council (Santaco) provincial chairperson, said they had not been consulted by government, except hearing in the media about the lockdown.
Zondi said until Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula consulted with them, taxis would be running as normal.
However, Mbalula had said no taxis and e-hailing services would be permitted to operate.
On Monday, Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown to limit the Covid-19 outbreak. It will take effect from midnight today, and will impose stringent restrictions on the movement of people. People will be confined to their homes and will only be allowed to leave to buy essentials such as food and medicines, to seek healthcare, or collect social grants.
Mbalula said his department was working on allowing certain times for taxis so essential service workers could use public transport during this period.
Later the government resolved that taxis that accommodate 14 passengers would only be permitted to take 7. Morning transport would last from 5am until 9am. Ubers would also operate, but would carry a limited number of passengers per trip.
"We are looking at allocating time for taxis in the morning and afternoon. During the day, it is a lockdown. Trains will not be operating. Long-distance trains will also not be operating. We are looking at intensifying the lockdown in terms of aviation,” he said.
Mbalula said there would be no transport between the morning and afternoon time slots.
Transport provincial spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said everyone was expected to adhere to the lockdown, including taxi operators.
But Zondi was adamant.
“The president met with the business community but not us. We were not part of any consultation meetings. We were not told anything. What we hear in the media is that certain people will be going to work and others will be sitting at home. We have not taken any decision on the matter, except that we will continue operating as normal.”
Zondi felt the taxi industry was “deliberately excluded”. He said taxi operators were also concerned that while plans were made to assist small businesses, nothing was done to assist them even though they would be equally hard hit by the lockdown.
“We expected to hear how we will be compensated because there will be fewer commuters. Banks would still expect us to pay instalments and insurance companies would expect payments. We are in the dark about the whole process of lockdown. We are really disappointed,” he said.
Public transport was busier than usual on Wedneday and was expected to be even busier on Thursday as more and more people would be travelling to be with their families during the lockdown.