Plan in place to limit spread of virus among 16.5-million taxi commuters

18 March 2020 - 15:00 By LUYOLO MKENTANE
Taxi operators have promised to implement measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Taxi operators have promised to implement measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The largest taxi organisation in the country has mapped out a plan to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the sector, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 116 on Wednesday.

SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) president Phillip Taaibosch addressed journalists at the Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning on measures the council will take to limit the spread of the virus. These include cleaning and disinfecting taxi ranks and minibus taxis with certified chemicals every day, reports BusinessLIVE.

There are more than 1,000 taxi ranks in the country and the sector transports an estimated 16.5-million passengers a day, he said.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has said there would be random screening of passengers for Covid-19 at all taxi ranks and train stations – and that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) would sanitise all of its trains.

The Western Cape's minister of transport and public works, Bongikosi Madikizela, oversaw some of the interventions by local government to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on public transport on March 18 2020. According to their website, Golden Arrow operates 1046 buses during peak hours, transporting an average of 220,000 people per day.

Passengers will be sanitised as they enter and leave taxi ranks, confirmed Taaibosch.

“All taxis will have sanitisers offered to all passengers as they enter the taxi and after handling taxi fares. Everybody in the vicinity of the taxi rank must cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing,” he said.

“Queue marshals are encouraged to ensure that passengers observe hygiene standards,  such as the frequent washing of hands.”

Santaco has formed a national command centre, chaired by Taaibosch, aimed at monitoring the implementation of the taxi industry programme on Covid-19.

The programme will be taken to the bustling Bosman taxi rank in Pretoria and to the Kempton Park taxi rank, among others.

“I want to emphasise that this task ahead of us is not easy. We anticipate challenges, but we remain resolute,” said Taaibosch.

“We acknowledge steps taken by the president [Cyril Ramaphosa]. Santaco will take such steps to reduce spread of coronavirus. We also thank the media for its interest and thorough communication on this issue.”

Ramaphosa declared the coronavirus a national disaster on Sunday and ordered the closure of schools and banned gatherings of more than 100 people, among other measures.

“I’m confident that when we all pull together in one direction, we will beat the coronavirus spread and eliminate it completely,” added Taaibosch.

Political parties including the ANC and the DA and municipal workers' union Samwu have postponed their scheduled councils and conferences to limit the spread of the disease, which has sickened more than 185,067 people in 155 countries and regions worldwide.