Joburg taxi commuters fearful of contracting COVID-19

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Johannesburg taxi commuters say while they need to travel to work to earn a living, they remain fearful of contracting COVID-19 and passing it on to their families.

Commuters made these comments as taxis belonging to the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) continued loading their vehicles at full capacity, despite lockdown restrictions for the taxi industry.

Commuters in Johannesburg also say their lives will become harder when taxi fares increase tomorrow.

Taxi alliances have accused the Transport Ministry of failing to accommodate the industry’s concerns regarding the lockdown regulations and have also blamed the ministry for postponing meetings on numerous occasions.

Santaco’s Chief Strategic Manager Bafana Magagula says taxis will continue to load passengers at 100 percent capacity until Mbalula brings forth solutions.

Magagula says, “The minister is going to take all our proposals to the NCCC next Wednesday and he is going to return to us after that meeting. Until then we will wait for the minister to come back to us. We will leave the loading at 100 percent. There is no way it can be dangerous for a 15 passenger seating capacity as long as people are in their masks. We are going to ensure that that protocol is followed.”

Meanwhile Taxi drivers belonging to the United Taxi Associations Front (UTAF) say they will comply with government lockdown regulations and load their vehicles to a maximum of 70 percent capacity.

In the video below, Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula addresses a press briefing:

Taxi industry grievances should not result in lawless behaviour: Mbalula

Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula says grievances by the taxi industry should not result in lawless behaviour by members of the industry.

Some taxi operators heeded the call by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) for vehicles to transport commuters with 100% capacity.

Taxi associations have accused the Transport Ministry of failing to accommodate their concerns regarding the lockdown regulations.

Mbalula says his department is working on assisting the industry.

“Can we achieve these things by a state of lawlessness? No. You are setting yourselves on a collision course with law enforcement, which is the state, and in that instance, the law will have to be maintained. You are daring the law and the authority of the state. There is no need to do that and I don’t know who said we are fighting the taxi industry. Do I want law enforcement to clamp down on the taxi industry? No. Government had got to come to the party. We in the department have taken the proposal to the NCCC (National Coronavirus Command Council).”