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Mbalula backtracks: taxis now only allowed to be filled to 70% capacity

Change of heart after public outcry to directive that taxis could be filled as long as passengers wore masks

01 April 2020 - 21:43 By Denis Droppa
Minibus taxis are now allowed to be filled to only 70% capacity.
Minibus taxis are now allowed to be filled to only 70% capacity.
Image: Supplied

Just hours after announcing that minibus taxis were allowed to carry a full load as long as all passengers wore masks, transport minister Fikile Mbalula has rescinded the order.

This followed a public outcry about the impact of such an arrangement to the health and safety of public transport users during the lockdown.

Originally the regulations on Covid-19 lockdown prescribed a 50% loading capacity, but Mbalula earlier on Wednesday relaxed the restrictions on public transport vehicles after taxi operators threatened to go on a national strike. He said when passengers didn't wear masks, public transport vehicles were to reduce the number of maximum passengers to 70% of the licensed capacity.

However, with immediate effect, all taxis will be subject to a maximum 70% loading capacity, whether or not passengers wear masks.

"We urge the taxi industry to accept these declared measures," said Mbalula on Wednesday evening. "New ministerial directions to this effect will be published in due course for immediate implementation.

"We further urge members of the public and taxi operators to take preventative measures to mitigate against the spread of the virus. Government will undertake a programme to assist with the distribution of the masks. We also urge operators to continue to sanitise the taxi surfaces and to provide hand sanitisers to the public."