News24 29 June 2020

Most taxi operators at Bosman taxi rank in Tshwane on Monday heeded unions’ calls for 100% loading capacity, instead of 70% as required by government’s lockdown regulations.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) had instructed its members to operate at 100% passenger capacity and disregard passenger permits for long-distance travel.

Taxi operators have said they would load their vehicles to 100% capacity, claiming that there are no health risks involved.

One taxi driver, who did not want to be named, told News24 that as long as they maintained the sanitisation protocols and ensured that commuters wear their masks, there would be no issues.

“We will load 100% and following the proper procedures,” the operator said.

“We have been complying with the minister, but he is not coming to the table.”

No police presence

Taxi operators at the Bosman station were left to their own devices on Monday as there was no police presence at the taxi rank overseeing the loading capacity or other protocols that have been put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The City of Ekurhuleni has vowed to strictly ensure that all regulations relating to taxi operators are respected and implemented for the duration of the Covid-19 enforced lockdown period.

There were also several taxis preparing for inter-provincial trips.

One taxi driver preparing to go to Limpopo told commuters that they did not need permits for the trip.

Speaking to News24, the taxi operator said he would not bother checking for permits and told commuters that they do not need them as long as they sanitise and wear their masks during the trip.

He said that long-distance taxi operators have been without work for months now and are eager to get back on the road.

The driver was of the view that if government was unable to assist the industry, the taxi industry would assist itself.

News24 saw several taxis operating at 100%, but also taxis still adhering to the 70% loading capacity.

Taxi operators said those who were still loading at 70% were most likely scared of police and would not risk taking a chance and having their taxis impounded.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula cancelled a meeting planned for Sunday with taxi operators who have been negotiating to be able carry more passengers, and to cross provincial borders during the coronavirus restrictions.

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