Taxis affiliated to the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) and the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in Limpopo are back to operating at full capacity after resolving on Monday that the 70% carrying capacity stipulated by lockdown regulations was no longer feasible.
The Secretary of Santaco in Limpopo, Lesiba Mathobela said it was no longer conducive to operate at 70% capacity.
“It was a business decision and we can assure people that the taxi industry is not a platform springboard for the high infection rate of the Coronavirus. We will continue to respect the regulations and ensure that all our commuters are safe.”
The Spokesperson for the alliance in Limpopo, Frans Kgasago said they decided on this route after several futile meetings with the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula regarding capacity-related matters.
“We decided to go against the government’s Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines that stipulate that minibus taxis must load at 70% capacity during level three of the lockdown. We are struggling financially and with the full capacity we will be able to make enough revenue. It is good for us because banks were threatening to repossess our vehicles and we can’t allow that to happen. The Coronavirus and the lockdown has affected us badly and it will take time for us to recover.”
He stressed that the health of the commuters won’t be compromised as they will still wear their masks and sanitise before boarding the vehicles.
Meanwhile, law enforcers conducted a routine roadblock in Nelson Mandela Drive on Tuesday to check on driver and vehicle fitness of those moving in the direction of Polokwane.
A source indicated that taxis were apparently seen off-loading excess passengers before reaching a roadblock.
Commuters would then walk past law enforcers and meet the taxi again on the other side where they would again board the taxi, according to the source.
Every Tuesday, Seshego police and Polokwane Municipality law enforcement conduct the roadblock which is aimed at checking if motorists comply with the Traffic Act.
According to Seshego Police Communication Officer, Sergeant Ally Maluleke the goal is to check compliance.
“We inspect drivers’ licences and the roadworthiness of vehicles.
“We started to conduct this roadblock even before the lockdown and the operation will continue even after the lockdown is over.
“All vehicles, not just the taxis, are inspected,” Maluleke emphasised.
On some days, members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) also assist the municipal officers.
“With the taxi issues we have been warned to refrain from arresting taxi drivers as conversations between the NTA and the minister are ongoing, and we are waiting to be informed on the way forward,” said Maluleke.
>> Story & photo: Herbert Rachuene and Maseo Nethanani