Workers tested on first day back at work

Workers queue at Baragwanath taxi rank on their first day of level 3 of the lockdown due to Covid-19 in South Africa./ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Workers queue at Baragwanath taxi rank on their first day of level 3 of the lockdown due to Covid-19 in South Africa./ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Workers who returned to work on Monday were battling with anxiety while some complained about taxis leaving ranks with just a few passengers as the country moved to level 3 of the lockdown.

Commuters at the Phumulong taxi rank in Atteridgeville, near Pretoria, complained about being late for work.

Simon Mphahlele, manager at the rank, told Sowetan's sister publication TimesLIVE yesterday that commuters were complaining because taxis were leaving without full loads.

"We only carry 70%, as stated in the regulations, but passengers are complaining. They say they are late but there is nothing we can do. We can't break the law," he said.

Mphahlele said there had been an increase in passengers, making it difficult for taxis to operate. Queues are longer and there are fewer taxis because of the 70% rule.

He said during the hard lockdown, more than 25 drivers said they were struggling because of the restriction.

"Many said it is best they stayed at home. Now they have come back, but it is still the same," he said.

Lerato Mokoele, 38, from Meadowlands in Soweto, said she was anxious about starting work at a fish and chips outlet at the Baragwanath taxi rank.

"I feel scared and happy at the same time. It's been almost three months without pay," said Mokoele.

She said that she and her three children had been relying on the Covid-19 relief grant from the government and though she received her Unemployment Insurance Fund claims, it was not enough.

Knowledge Barcela, who works at White Electronics in Roodepoort, said his landlord was demanding rent money.

"I don't know where I will get money because I just started at work," said Barcela.

At least eight million people were expected to return to work yesterday after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easing of lockdown regulations, allowing for more people to go back to work.

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