Wear a mask or face a fine, taxi associations warn drivers
“If you see a [taxi] driver not wearing a mask during a trip, report him,” warns Themba Kubheka, secretary of the Greater North Taxi Association in Durban.
This follows dozens of complaints from commuters about taxi drivers who defy regulations to slow the spread of Covid-19 by not wearing masks or wearing them incorrectly during trips.
“Some taxi drivers are not wearing their masks, some wear it on their chin and that is not acceptable ... We will be running a campaign to teach them about the importance of safety especially during the pandemic,” said Kubheka.
“Most of our drivers were ignorant to the fact that this is serious, but now they are starting to see the seriousness of the situation. We are pleading with them to always wear their masks, sanitise and wash their hands before and after every trip,” said Kubheka.
SA National Taxi Council’s (Santaco's) Sfiso Shangase said, “In areas where Operation Hlokomela is active, we have asked that they fine any driver or driver assistant found without a mask on a trip. We have also put up stickers in taxis encouraging both our drivers and commuters to wear masks. If drivers don’t wear masks, how do they expect passengers to wear theirs?”
Commuter Mndeni Mkhize, from Ntuzuma, said drivers who do not wear face masks are endangering their own lives and those of their passengers. “They are most at risk as they transport a lot of people from different professions every day. It is their responsibility to make sure that everyone wears a mask when entering the taxi.”
Zwangabo Mjoka said taxi drivers in Malukazi, south of Durban, are leading by example. He said most of them wear masks during trips bar “a few bad apples” who need to be reported for breaking lockdown regulations.
Chairperson of the taxi driver association Bonginkosi Sangweni said an ongoing challenge is convincing drivers to wear masks. “Some people say that they are discouraged or don’t see the need to wear masks during trips just because drivers don’t wear theirs. This is wrong; we must work together on this. We are also collecting money to buy thermometers so that drivers can be screened before a trip,” said Sangweni.
- This article was first published by GroundUp
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