Commuters on Covid-19: There is no solution to this problem

Commuters line up.
Commuters line up.

Taxi and bus commuters say they fear for their health and that random screening is not enough to protect them from the looming Covid-19 coronavirus.

Many feel that their health is compromised because taxis and buses are always packed and overloading is commonplace.

On Monday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that random screenings would be carried out at taxi ranks and at train stations to ensure that public transport services are safe for commuters.

Read: Public transport preventive measures will slow down Covid-19 – Mbalula

Speaking to City Press on Tuesday, taxi commuters from Kempton Park Taxi Rank expressed their concerns regarding the random screenings.

Commuter Thabo Malatji said he was not comfortable because of the recent scams where people pretended to be virus inspectors from ER24.

“People are evil these days. How will we know that these random inspectors are from the government? I don’t want to be infected by this virus. I just can’t trust any inspection right now. I am against it,” he said.

Another commuter, Karabo Ntuli from Germiston Taxi Rank, said that by the time the random screenings begin, a large number of people would be infected.

“Screening alone is not enough,” she said.

“Look, there’s already a large number of people who are using taxis. Some people don’t show symptoms, they don’t even know they are sick. By the time Mbalula thinks of doing a random screening many people will be sick.

“They need to think of another option because we can’t stop using the taxis; we need them.”

Taxi and bus commuters say they fear for their health and that random screening is not enough to protect them from the looming Covid-19 coronavirus.

To prevent the spread of the virus, Mbalula said that surfaces on trains and taxis would be sanitised after every trip. This will include intensive cleaning of key points, major stations and the provision of practical screening facilities that will target train stations, including Johannesburg Park Station, as well as major stations in Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein.

Mbalula assured that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA would sanitise all its trains, and called on all taxi operators to do the same with their vehicles.

“Social distancing will affect us in terms of taxis… Random testing will be applied in all the taxi ranks and all the trains, but taxis will also be expected to undergo sanitisation,” he said.

Rea Vaya bus commuter Patrick Mate said it was impossible to ensure hygiene for everyone.

“Even though they said they would give us hand sanitiser, how do we stop people from sneezing in the bus? Many people hold on to the rails when they are standing in the bus when it is full,” he said.

“We are going to get sick because not everyone practices hygiene. There is no solution to this problem.”

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that gatherings of 100 people and more were prohibited. He urged the public to avoid social gatherings.

Read: Covid-19: Ramaphosa announces ‘urgent, drastic’ measures

As the battles to keep Covid-19 infections at bay, there are ways to stay safe.

“People need to learn to be responsible,” said Dr Brenda Kubheka, a risk management and ethics consultant at Health IQ Consulting.

“This is the time when we need to protect each other from one another. We understand that hand sanitiser is no longer available, so what people can do is research how to make their own hand sanitiser. They can start there to protect themselves in times when they cannot reach water and soap.”


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