Confusion and frustration in Bloemfontein, Free State, marked the first day of the relaxed lockdown regulations in South Africa.
Taxi operators in one of the busy taxi ranks in the city pleaded ignorance about the easing of travel rules, which allows the once-off movement between provinces from Friday to next Thursday.
Some of the stranded commuters had been at the rank since the crack of dawn.
“I’ve been here since 7am. I’m going to QwaQwa and very frustrated. I just want to go home. We were told to wait until the Minister makes an announcement. So we don’t know what is going to happen afterward.”
“I’m very frustrated because I don’t know what the minister will say. So I will hear what he has to say. And I’m from Bloemfontein going to Welkom.”
“I want the Minister to speak quickly so that we can get transport,” some commuters said.
Majakathala Long Distance Taxi Association chairperson, Mzimeni Valashiya, says they were not aware that they could start ferrying commuters to other provinces.
“It is true that people are stranded they have to report for work but we can’t be above the law. There’s no way we can listen to hearsay. Will be wrong and against the law. What we need to do is that I’m here since arrival in the morning at half past five,” says Valashiya.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has since clarified regulations regarding long-distance and inter-provincial commuting.
“Long-distance bus and taxi operators are allowed to undertake long-distance travel during this window period. Full compliance with 70% passenger capacity, wearing masks by all passengers and sanitisation of vehicles at the completion of each journey is a mandatory requirement,” he has said.
People who travel home or for work between the provinces are expected to stay at their destinations for the remainder of the Level-4 lockdown period.
In the video below, the Transport Minister addresses the media: