Coronavirus: Taxi council says it'll promote awareness, but it's business as usual


The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) says its members will continue to operate their businesses as usual, suggesting it would be difficult to halt their operations following a call by President Cyril Ramaphosa discouraging "non-essential" travel by air, taxis and bus to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Addressing the nation on Sunday night, Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster as the country's number of positive Covid-19 cases increased to the 61.

The head of state announced a number of measures, including a partial travel ban and the closure of a number of ports of entry.

Santaco secretary Ralph Jones told News24 that while they respected Ramaphosa’s call, their hands were tied because the business of ferrying millions of people from one place to the other every day was critical.

Jones said many taxi operators had bills to pay and if they heeded the president’s call, their families would go hungry.

He said many owners were still paying off their vehicles and they would only be able to stop operating if the government or banks cleared their debts.

READ | Coronavirus: Ramaphosa closes borders to all citizens from high-risk countries, bans large gatherings

Jones warned that the country’s economy would be severely affected if they halted their daily operations.

"Government must remember that we are running a privately-owned business sector on our own. At the end of the day, South Africans need to go to work and home daily.

"We are also worried about the spread of the virus and have been calling for calm in our operators and everybody who is involved in the sector, including our taxi marshals, vendors and cleaners at all our taxi ranks.

"We don’t know where all this brouhaha is coming from, especially people distributing fake news," Jones said.

He said there had been other health scares in the country before but there had not been as much of an outcry as with the current concern over Covid-19.

ALSO READ | Covid-19 has been declared a national disaster in SA – here’s what that means

"People must go to work, and they need us to ferry them. We owe our cars, will they [government] pay for our cars? If we don’t operate, fuel businesses will be severely affected. Workers are also going to be affected and other companies will be affected too. We will continue working and we will be careful," Jones said.

"We are going to promote awareness about the virus in all our places of work. We are going to partner with government in promoting awareness campaigns. We need to meet as government and engage on the way forward."

Meanwhile, bus company Putco promised that it would be placing posters in all its buses to inform its passengers about the virus.

Spokesperson Witness Mhongo-Chuene said Putco management would be meeting on Monday at 05:00 to discuss Ramaphosa’s announcement.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Matric results are out! Are you happy with your child's result?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No, the pandemic really messed up their ability to focus
33% - 419 votes
Yes, they did well given the circumstances
67% - 863 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.