Cape Town - "Essential services workers" flocking to the the Site C taxi rank in Khayelitsha this morning were left frustrated as no minibus taxis were moving.
A group of commuters in uniform said they were health care workers at Groote Schuur Hospital, and were worried they might not arrive at work on time.
The 21-day lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak officially started at midnight Thursday. Several people have been arrested for allegedly disobeying the country's lockdown rules.
Nozuko Mbinza, one of the health care workers who was among the hundreds of commuters left stranded, said she and her colleagues were frustrated to arrive at the Site C taxi ranks with no taxis moving.
"My fear is that we might not even make it on time," Mbinza said, adding she might go to the bus station to wait for the Golden Arrow Bus.
The Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) spokesperson Besuthu Ndungane did not want to confirm nor deny the taxi drivers' strike. However, he was shocked to hear the taxi operators were threatening to burn buses as commuters were alleging.
Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said: "It will be unfortunate if the taxi council pulls out from transporting essential service staff today, but I hope they will not attempt to stop essential service staff from being transported."
Madikizela said the rules for transport during the nationwide lockdown was not drawn up by the Provincial Transport department, "but we support it and the objectives behind it".
"Government will not allow the taxi industry or any other group to endanger the lives of essential services staff or our citizens in general during this crucial time when we have to pull together to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus," he said.
%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/Lockdown?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Lockdown #StayHome @IOL @TheCapeArgus @TheStar_news @MbalulaFikile @SABCNewsOnline @MadikizelaBongz @alanwinde pic.twitter.com/sbHc5L8fAA
— Sisonke Mlamla (@SISONKE_MD)
A group of commuters in uniform says they are health care workers at the Groote Schuur Hospital, and are worried that they might not make it to work this morning. #Lockdown #StayHome @TheCapeArgus @IOL @nomafrench @alanwinde pic.twitter.com/aaeU916rD9
— Sisonke Mlamla (@SISONKE_MD) March 27, 2020
Golden Arrow Bus Services general manager, Derick Meyer said Golden Arrow had, with guidance from provincial government, undertaken to operate reduced services between the stipulated hours so essential staff can travel to work and home.
Meyer said they would run reduced services from 5am until 9am and again from 4pm to 8pm.
"Any changes to this will only be as a result of a directive from the transport minister," Meyer said.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula re-assured that, "we do not expect any lawlessness, in the form of defiance of the law, which may lead to the state exerting its authority".