- Tembisa taxi drivers responded positively to the government's vaccination drive.
- The government launched its first taxi rank vaccination site at Esangweni.
- The province aims to target two taxi ranks per week to recruit thousands of operators.
Taxi operators in Tembisa have welcomed the government's vaccination drive with open arms, except for a few doubters.
The Gauteng transport department, in partnership with its health counterparts and taxi associations, launched the vaccination drive at Esangweni taxi rank on Thursday.
Many taxi operators joined the queue, which was later dominated by passengers, while a few stood back and watched.
Health workers arrived at the rank around 07:00 and found some drivers waiting to be vaccinated.
Some drivers had registered for the vaccination, but were unable to visit a site due to a lack of time.
Among those who received their jabs was Matsebane Mtokolo.
Mtokolo expressed relief after receiving his Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"I have long registered for the vaccine. I have been wondering when will our taxi associations assist us by bringing vaccines closer to our workplaces. We work seven days a week and don't have time to visit healthcare facilities for vaccines.
"This is a great opportunity that we can't miss. I am happy and feel that my body is now strong to fight Covid-19. I am afraid of needles, but this time, I had to soldier on and receive my jab," said Mtokolo.
Golden Masuku had also previously registered for the vaccine.
Masuku said they were encouraged that many passengers had been vaccinated.
"We are ferrying many people daily, and some of them have been inoculated. As drivers, we are left behind. Our health is at risk because we are not protected. This is an opportunity to do the right thing. We are also part of society and wish this pandemic to end soon.
However, a group of doubtful taxi drivers stood a few metres away from the vaccination tents.
Mkhanyisele Mvelase said he wanted to vaccinate, but was afraid.
"I have never been injected before in my life. My worry emanates from negative messages about the vaccine. There are fears that, even after vaccinating, we will die from Covid-19.
"We want guarantees from the government that vaccination will save our lives against the virus. We will wait for feedback from all those who went ahead. If the feedback is good, then I will join them, but not anytime soon," Mvelase said.
Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo promised to encourage all operators who are hesitant to come forward.
Mamabolo said, in Ekurhuleni alone, they were targeting over 14 000 operators.
"The sentiments we received from taxi drivers about vaccination last month were very negative. Many operators complained about being unconvinced if they wanted to visit vaccination points. We agreed with them to bring vaccines closer, and we did it. They also raised issues about vaccine side-effects and other myths surrounding it.
"Today, we see good results. We hope that drivers, who have been vaccinated, will encourage others. We will continue with our campaign to visit all taxi ranks.
"It is not easy encouraging taxi operators and it requires extra work. I am delighted by the turnaround we have seen today. The solution to convince doubters is through hard work," Mamabolo said.
Mamabolo promised to vaccinate drivers at two taxi ranks per week until the province reached the targeted headcount.
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