Taxis are an important mode of transport for many who commute on a daily basis, and the South African National Taxi Association (SATA) has made the decision to allow minibuses to operate at 100% capacity from Monday, June 29. This decision was taken after the Minister of Transport failed to addressed their concerns.
The move has been strongly condemned by Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, who believes this decision to violate lockdown regulations will create “COVID-19 death traps”. Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has also agreed that this is a bad decision.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms, any call encouraging taxi operators to violate provisions of the law and promote lawlessness. We remain committed to taking forward our engagements and encourage the industry to ensure that any form of protest they embark upon, is within the parameters of the law,” Mbalula said in a statement on Sunday, June 28.
It is anticipated that while every province will unfortunately witness an increase in their numbers, areas where there is high economic activity will experience an exponential rise – beginning with Gauteng and Western Cape and followed by Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Na- tal #COVID19
— Department of Health (@HealthZA) June 28, 2020
According to SATA, they had presented four issues to Mbalula, which included long-distance operations, taxi fares, a relief fund and 100% loading capacity. They felt they could no longer wait for the Minister to decide and were unhappy that the decision for airlines to fill planes and travel inter-provincially was approved, while their request to fill taxis was not.
It is rather unfortunate and regrettable that the taxi industry leadership has elected to violate the law, rather than await a decision on the matters they have tabled #StaySafe @SA_Taxis @GovernmentZA https://t.co/vS78zT3o7V
— Department of Transport (@Dotransport) June 28, 2020
Mbalula was scheduled to meet with SATA on Thursday, June 25 but was forced to reschedule due to unforeseen circumstances.
“Government has a responsibility to ensure that all measures in place as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, are driven by the commitment to preserve human life and avoid an uncontrolled spread of the virus. It is on that basis that a decision to allow uncontrolled inter-provincial travel and 100% loading capacity on taxis have to be subjected to the collective decision-making,” he said.
Mkhize has advised South Africans to refrain from entering overloaded taxis.