Fikile Mbalula urges aviators to comply with lockdown regulations

Transport minister said despite lockdown regulations, there has been a surge in the number of applications for permission to fly drones.
Transport minister said despite lockdown regulations, there has been a surge in the number of applications for permission to fly drones.
Image: ADREES LATIF/REUTERS

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has urged aviators, particularly pilots and drone owners, to comply with the regulations and directions of the Disaster Management Act aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

He said the plea follows reports of a surge in the number of applications for permission to fly remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly referred to as drones.

The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) had also received a handful of requests from small private aircraft owners requesting permission to fly their aircraft for various business-related activities, including farm owners wanting to fly into various provinces to check on operations, Mbalula said.

Appealing to aircraft owners for co-operation, he said: “While these applications are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis, it is important to remember that the country is under lockdown for a reason. Restrictions are there to stop the spread of Covid-19; it is a matter or life and death. We cannot put lives at risk in an effort to rescue unessential business operations, if it is not deemed urgent, it must wait. We simply cannot put a price tag on human lives.”

The minister commended cargo operators, the national department of health's Port Health Services, the department of transport’s aviation agencies as well as many other role players for not only ensuring smooth operations but also adherence to outlined regulations and directions.

“Minister Mbalula also noted daily reports that indicate that procedures as set by various organisations, including the World Health Organisation on disinfection and other hygiene and Covid-19 combating measures, are being followed precisely,” the transport ministry said in a statement.


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