Business as usual at ranks as taxis operate at full capacity

FILE IMAGE: Taxis were loading at full capacity on Monday.
FILE IMAGE: Taxis were loading at full capacity on Monday.
Image: SIPHIWE SIBEKO

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

At the taxi rank in Ekurhuleni, queue marshals packed the taxis into full load capacity in line with the South African National  Taxi Council announcement made yesterday.

Commuters simply boarded taxis without any complaints as they departed to different destinations in Gauteng in full load 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 national lockdown.

At the Germiston rank, commuters heading to other provinces, braved the cold and started boarding taxis.

One taxi to Nquthu, KwaZulu-Natal, had just three passengers with their bags. The commuters told Sowetan that they do not believe police could give them problems on 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 same 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 that 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 on their request. Taxi bosses had requested to operate their 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 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 government were to impound any of their vehicles for breaking national lockdown regulations.

The defiant stance by the taxi industry comes a week after Santaco in Gauteng held a strike complaining about the R1.13bn relief for the sector which they said was too little. Mbalula informed the taxi bosses that there was no additional funding that could be allocated as government’s financial resources had been stretched to the limit.

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