Compliance with Covid-19 regulations at taxi ranks remains a grave concern for local residents who use public transport daily.
The Rep spoke to a few commuters who were worried whether vehicles were disinfected.
Nwaiza Mapolisa, who travels by taxi to work, said compliance was only implemented in the early stages of the lockdown. “Taxis are always full and sanitiser is not provided. I always make sure that I carry my own sanitiser in my bag. We do not even know if and when these vehicles are fumigated. Drivers, however, do wear masks.”
Another resident who did not want to be identified said she had refrained from using taxis for her safety. “Sanitisers are not offered and there is an issue of passing money from one hand to another. There is non-compliance and, as a result, my daughter does not want me take taxis anymore,” she said.
Nosisi Kanuka, a commuter, added that social grant pay dates created major problems. “The numbers are not adhered to, which defeats the purpose of social distancing. Some days they do comply and other days not. What I can commend them for is the wearing of masks.”
Komani Uncedo Services Taxi Association secretary general Doc Ngcongca said this was a serious matter and urged commuters to report such things to their offices. “We know and understand the situation, this is no joke. Coronavirus is killing people, that is why we are compliant with Covid-19 regulations. We speak to our drivers to have sanitiser in their vehicles. Rank managers are making sure that taxis are fumigated after every trip and that all our taxis are loading according to the Covid-19 regulations. We punish and discipline people who are not compliant,” indicated Ngcongca.
Department of transport spokesperson Unathi Binqose said the department had worked extensively with taxi organisations to ensure safety protocols were followed. “We have tried to educate people about social distancing, especially when people are in a taxi rank, and ensure that everyone, including taxi drivers, wear masks at all times. We commend people who took the initiative of selling masks in and around taxi ranks. Earlier, during stage five of the lockdown, we went to sanitise taxi ranks and left some of the merchandise with the organisation so that they can do it on a regular basis. We urge the taxi industry and commuters to take personal responsibility for their wellbeing. Law enforcement officers are also on the ground to ensure that social distancing and the number regulations are adhered to.”
Binqose said the department was impressed by the strides taken by citizens in the call by government to keep safe during the pandemic. “Many people wear masks. I have heard from commuters that taxi operators do not allow people into vehicles without masks. We applaud them for that. Those who are caught breaking the law will be dealt with,” said Binqose.