Business as usual at ranks as taxis operate at full capacity

29 June 2020 - 12:50 By Penwell Dlamini
Taxis were defiantly loading passengers to full capacity on Monday, and breaking lockdown regulations regarding inter-provincial travel.
Taxis were defiantly loading passengers to full capacity on Monday, and breaking lockdown regulations regarding inter-provincial travel.

It is back to business at the Germiston taxi rank on Monday following an announcement by taxi associations.

At the taxi rank in Ekurhuleni, queue marshalls packed vehicles to full capacity in line with the SA National Taxi Council  (Santaco) announcement yesterday, SowetanLIVE reports.

Commuters boarded taxis without complaint and departed to different destinations in Gauteng with vehicles loaded to 100% capacity. Taxis have been operating at 70% capacity as part of government interventions to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19. Some taxi associations, however, started operating at full capacity last week as they felt they had incurred too many losses during the lockdown.

At the Germiston rank, commuters heading to other provinces braved the cold and  boarded taxis. One taxi travelling to Nquthu in KwaZulu-Natal had only three passengers and their bags inside. The commuters told Sowetan they did not believe police would give them problems during their journey. 

“They cannot impound the taxi or arrest us. It was an official announcement. Everyone knows about it now. We are not scared about arrest. Government cannot do that to us. It cannot happen,” said one of the commuters.

Another commuter echoed the sentiment.

“I came from Nquthu to Germiston on Friday. Taxis were already operating. Today I am going back to Nquthu.  Nothing happened to us on Friday, so I do not believe the taxis will be stopped today,” she said.

Santaco and the National Taxi Alliance announced that they would start operating at full load capacity today. They also said inter-provincial travel, which has been closed during the national lockdown, would be reopened.

The taxi industry made the decision after transport minister Fikile Mbalula postponed four meetings with the sector in which he was supposed to give them feedback about their requests. Taxi bosses had requested to operate taxis at full load capacity and for government to reopen inter-provincial operations.

Mbalula indicated that he agreed with them in principle, but had to take their request to the national coronavirus command council, which would make the final decision.

His office said it was disappointed with the conduct of taxi bosses as Mbalula was scheduled to meet the industry on Tuesday.

Taxi bosses threatened to shut down all taxi operations in the country if the government impounded any of their vehicles for breaking lockdown regulations.

The defiant stance by the taxi industry comes a week after Santaco in Gauteng staged protests about the R1.3bn relief package for the sector, which they said was too little.

Mbalula told taxi bosses there was no additional funding that could be allocated as the government’s financial resources had been stretched to the limit.