Taxis hit hard

2020-04-09 06:02
Commuters taxis being disinfected. (Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images)

Commuters taxis being disinfected. (Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images)

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Taxi drivers and owners believe they are paying the heaviest price as a result of the current 21-day lockdown.

As part of the lockdown, transport minister Fikile Mbalula prohibited taxis from carrying the full capacity. They can only carry a maximum of 10 passengers, which is 70% of their normal load.

All passengers, including the driver, must wear face masks and be sanitised when they get into a taxi.

Taxis are only allowed to operate between 05:00 to 10:00 and 16:00 to 20:00.

This has put a strain on the industry. Taxi ranks that are normally very busy now resemble a cemetery for most of the day. There is very limited movement across most taxi hubs.

When City Vision arrived at Nomzamo Taxi Rank,

at 11:45 on Tuesday 7 April, few taxis were in the parking bays.

Taxi operators expressed their displeasure and moaned about the impact of the lockdown on their businesses.

Albert Booi, who has worked in the taxi industry since 2000, said the lockdown has affected them badly, as they are “making nothing”.

“When we wake up in the morning, we come here to make ends meet, but after this lockdown, things have been very difficult. We have to pay monthly instalments for those vehicles but how are we going to do that now if we are only allowed 10 passengers?” asked Booi.

He believes the taxi industry is getting a raw deal. He says they were not considered by the government. Siyamcela Njokweni, who has been a taxi driver since 2003, said most of the money they currently make goes towards fuel and they are left with nothing.

“We have families that depend on us, not only here but in the Eastern Cape as well. When you come back home with nothing, people are amazed as to why you even woke up in the morning in the first place if it’s so difficult to make something,” he said.

Normally they would make four trips on a “bad” day. “There’s no employment, so we are obliged to ferry people. The same government we help to transport their workforce doesn’t value us,” he complained.

The taxi operators expressed their displeasure on issues of impounding their taxis. They say they did not get route permits from the transport department.

Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka, spokesperson for Western Cape MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, reminded public transport drivers that they must stick to the approved lockdown operating hours, and the speed limit. She urged drivers to drive carefully at all times, and obey all the Covid-19 safety measures, including reduced numbers of passengers.

“Buses are limited to carrying 50% of their licensed capacity. This means a 23-seater midibus may carry only 16 occupants (15 passengers plus the driver). Taxis are limited to carrying 70% of their licensed capacity.

“This means a 16-seater minibus may carry only 11 occupants (10 passengers plus the driver).

E-hailing services are limited to carrying 50% of their licensed capacity. This means a five-seater vehicle may carry only two occupants (one passenger and the driver),” said Makoba-Somdaka.

Private vehicles are limited to 60% of their licensed capacity. This means a five-seater vehicle may carry only three occupants (two passengers and the driver).


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