Commuters grin and bear it as taxis heed call to load at 100% capacity
This comes after the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) instructed taxi drivers to do so, despite the gazetted level 3 regulations indicating that taxis should load 70% to curb the spread of Covid-19. Santaco has been at loggerheads with Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula over the government’s R1billion offer to ease their financial strain.
Mbalula voiced his displeasure with the taxi industry, calling for peaceful engagements with stakeholders.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms any call encouraging taxi operators to violate provisions of the law and promote lawlessness. We remain committed to taking forward our engagements and encourage the industry to ensure that any form of protest they embark upon is within the parameters of the law,” he said.
Commuters at Germiston taxi rank took advantage of Santaco’s stance on inter-provincial travel without a permit.
Mapule Sekgobela expressed her excitement ahead of her trip to Limpopo after waiting for three months.
“I have not seen my family in three months. Now I thought I should grab this opportunity and go see my family. Acquiring a permit is quite a mission and I find it very unnecessary to go queue for permits during this virus. I’m happy with the reopening of inter-provincial travelling,” she said.
Another commuter, Sabelo Msibi, who was travelling to Mpumalanga, said he was not satisfied with the 100% loading capacity.
“I am happy that I will be able to travel to another province, but I’m not too happy with the loading capacity. I’m travelling to KwaMhlanga, which is about a three-hour drive, and with the taxi fully loaded it’s just scary. I mean, the virus does exist,” he said.
However, queue marshals whose jobs include checking if commuters have masks on and were sanitised on entering the rank were absent.
Commuter Puseletso Mohara said: “I feel like taxi ranks are going to be hotspots of this virus. Taxi drivers are not reasonable people and since they got what they want, it will be the survival of the fittest.”
Unlike their counterparts in Joburg, taxi operators in Mabopane, Winterveld and Soshanguve yesterday refused to ferry commuters at 100% capacity, saying it would put at risk the lives of commuters.
Peter Mogadingwane, who operates a taxi from Mabopane to Madidi under Mashata Taxi Association, said it was understandable why taxi drivers flayed the government for not coming to the party over the Covid-19 relief fund.
However, he believed loading passengers at 100% capacity was not a wise move.
“We can’t load 100% capacity, because we don’t want to be arrested. If we do that then we are definitely going to be arrested. And where will Santaco be when we are in trouble with the law?”
He said those who loaded at 100% in Joburg did so at their own risk. “At this taxi rank (Mabopane), we obey what the government says.”
He, however, said the 70% capacity hit operators the hardest.
Tshepo Motlhatlhaego, who operates a taxi under Mawiga Taxi Association, said it would be risky to load taxis to full capacity because that might cause the virus to spread wildly.
Minky Mokoena from Soshanguve echoed the sentiments that public transport must load at 70% because she was scared of contracting the virus.
Sizwe Sodladla said the government must be considerate and allow the 100% load.