The taxi industry has heeded the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa to heighten efforts to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. The South African National Taxi Association has launched an initiative aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus at taxi ranks. The Association has handed over thousands of hand sanitizers to taxi drivers on Tuesday at the Chesterville taxi rank in the Durban City Centre.

Drivers have been encouraged to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and commuters.

Aside from ensuring their own hand hygiene, taxi drivers will also ensure that passengers’ hands are sanitized before a trip.

SANTACO’s provincial chairperson Bigboy Zondi says passenger safety is their priority.

“We have decided to heed the call of the president and we have decided to take this initiative to all taxi rank in KZN where we are giving out sanitizers to the taxi drivers and also speaking to our passengers to use these sanitizers; that is what we are doing today (Tuesday).”

Zondi says they have partnered with various government departments to roll out the programme throughout the province.

“Tomorrow we are meeting as a province and we will give them on how are we going to come to their respective areas. And we have partnered with various departments; the first is the Department of Health and the other one is the Department of Transport since we have got long relationship with these two departments.”

Zondi calls on drivers to play their role in ensuring that these safety measures are implemented.

In the video below, SANTACO hands out sanitizers to taxi drivers at KZN taxi ranks. 

The initiative has been warmly welcomed by passengers.

“I think the taxi industry and the train industry, most of them did not know about this, so this is a good campaign and it also brings information to people at large and I think it is a brilliant idea.”

Road Safety Ambassador and Traffic Anchor on Ukhozi FM, Ayanda Msweli, says they will make sure that they disseminate the necessary information to people on the ground.

“As a person who works with people, I will always make sure that whatever important and useful information I get, I pass it to the people as soon as possible. And we will make follow-ups all the time to check if what we are talking about is done accordingly.”

In the video below, the taxi industry calls for urgent measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 to be implemented at all taxi ranks. 

Commuters and drivers in Bloemfontein have expressed concern about the coronavirus. Bus stations and taxi ranks remained a hive of activity due to a large number of passengers and hawkers.

It’s business as usual for bus operators despite a lurking fear of the coronavirus outbreak. Bus operators continue to make bookings ahead of scheduled trips. Meter taxi drivers have also expressed concern.

“It’s a big concern for me because I mean coronavirus is a disease which really kills. And it must be taken seriously and into consideration. A question of a mask is one of the things that is needed for us as taxi drivers so that we protect ourselves because we cannot even know or guess who has the coronavirus as a passenger and what is going to happen.”

Management at Interstate Bus Lines, which operates in Bloemfontein and surrounding areas, say they will provide hand sanitizers to their drivers and the frontline staff.

Commuters are equally concerned.

“My concern is that because of the transport and our safety, we are not safe at all. So I’m just concerned about our safety on the bus. I just want to know how are we going to survive and Interstate is it going to give us something to protect ourselves like we suppose to wash our hands now and then. I just want to know.”

Health authorities in the Free State say they are on high alert. However, the fear and uncertainty remain real. – Additional reporting by Ishmael Modiba. 

In the video below, the National Taxi Association briefs the media on efforts to deal with COVID-19 at taxi ranks.