Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela commended the taxi industry for complying with directives concerning carrying capacity, wearing masks and sanitising the hands of passengers and themselves. But there was still a lot to be done to beat Covid-19, he said.
Last Thursday morning Mr Madikizela visited Nyanga taxi rank which was among the areas from which a number of complaints about public transport non-compliance had emanated.
His latest visit was the third one since the introduction of lockdown.
Speaking to the media afterwards, he said he was still concerned about poor compliance by the taxi industry with many drivers still not wearing masks. Mr Madizela had to insist that they – and commuters – put on their masks and emphasised that even at level 3, lockdown regulations still stand. And operators who did not comply, he said, put passengers at risk.
“Loading restrictions, hygiene and social distancing in public transport remain key focuses of the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during the national lockdown,” he said.
“I reminded taxi drivers again that under Alert Level 3 minibus taxis must still load 70% capacity. Some are loading as if it’s business as usual. I warned those who do not comply with the loading regulations that there are consequences to ignoring these regulations.”He said he would continue visiting more taxi ranks to make sure everyone complied and to continue to raising awareness.
“I am engaging the local authority to use the transport enforcement unit for more capacity so that we can assist our traffic officers to enforce the law. We mean business. People must understand that if they don’t comply with the regulations they are putting the lives of passengers at risk. Covid-19 is here and will be with us for a long time. The only defence we have against the coronavirus is our behaviour.
“The lockdown will come to an end at some point and we must continue to practise social distancing, wear our masks and sanitise our hands. Social distancing on our public transport systems is crucial. Transport is ranked high as one of the systems vulnerable to transmitting the virus. Our role as government is to ensure we enforce the law to keep our public transport users safe.”
He also handed out pamphlets with a number to call should operators refuse to comply. He urged commuters to report non-compliance by dialing *134*234# to let his department know what kind of public transport vehicle they are travelling on, whether the operator was adhering to lockdown loading limits, whether the driver was wearing a mask, whether there was hand sanitiser on board, and whether the vehicle was clean and tidy.
Operators refused to speak but on the side, some raised concerns about the limits on carrying capacity, and its impact on their ability to earn an income.