Taxi owner tells of struggle

2020-04-14 15:30
Chairperson of the Woodlands Taxi Association Sheldon Woodroffe.

Chairperson of the Woodlands Taxi Association Sheldon Woodroffe.

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Doctors and healthcare professionals aren’t the only workers providing crucial services during the Covid-19 lockdown; taxi and bus drivers are too.

But a city taxi boss who has had to double up as a taxi driver says he is concerned about the nonchalant attitude from passengers regarding Covid-19.

Sheldon Woodroffe, who is also the Woodlands Taxi Association chairperson, fears contracting the virus and has seen most clients are unfazed by the situation. “People say they won’t stop living their lives; many people are continuing as if it is normal. Some passengers say it’s not a black man’s disease. They say it won’t hit them.

“Very few come here wearing masks. Some say it makes them claustrophobic. I think more education is needed.”

Woodroffe admits that the restrictions governing public transport during the lockdown have left him battling to make ends meet. “It’s terrible for business. I’m only making a quarter of the regular profit ...”

For Woodroffe, the biggest anxiety is having one of his taxis repossessed as he cannot meet his instalment this month. “I’m financed by SA Taxi. They have already started sending messages threatening to repossess the vehicle. As it stands, I can’t afford to pay the R18 500 instalment.”

While most taxi owners in the Woodlands area have opted to park their vehicles to avoid running at a loss, Wood­roffe said he had been compelled to continue to operate.

“If I had my own way, I’d sit at home. At the end of the day I have bills to pay. Although I’m not making much of a profit, the health workers and other essential workers use public transport to get to work. If we want to fight this, those people must get to work,” he said.

He voiced disappointment that the provincial South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has failed to provide necessary protective gear for taxi drivers.

“They go on TV and make all sorts of promises that never suffice. Santaco leadership came here and did a presentation but we don’t have sanitisers and masks. I had to buy my own masks ...”

Woodroffe said since the start of the lockdown, he had to temporarily let his drivers and conductors go. “I have to drive for myself because I can’t afford to pay them at this point ..."

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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