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Taxis, e-hailing services will not be operating during lockdown: Mbalula

Speaking on the Radio702 on Wednesday morning, Mbalula confirmed government was looking at special time slots during which taxis would be allowed to transport essential services staff to and from work.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula at a media briefing on 16 March 2020 on plans by government to curb the spread of the coronavirus in South Africa. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said all minibus taxis, metered taxis and e-hailing services would not be allowed to operate for the duration of South Africa's 21-day lockdown.

Speaking on the 702 on Wednesday morning, Mbalula confirmed government was looking at special time slots during which taxis would be allowed to transport essential services staff to and from work.

The minister said this would only be allowed once employees had obtained permission from government as per the declaration of the essential service.

“A lockdown is a lockdown, they will not be operating and there will be special catering for public transport and we will provide details later on. We are looking at the operation of time for the taxis in the morning and in the afternoon.”

Long-distance trains and buses will also not be allowed on the tracks and road.

“Trains, we’re looking at not at all. Long-distance, as we speak, has been shut down in terms of Shosholoza Meyl Premier Classe and we’re looking at intensifying in the aviation sector.”

Mbalula said they have also shut down ship cruises from entering the country and are evacuating different people from different countries to return home.

The minister said there would be special provisions made for those who are considered as essential service workers to ensure that they are able to get to their places of work.

Listen to the full audio below.

Meanwhile, the South African Airways (SAA) said it would provide support to passengers who intended to change their travel plans ahead of the national lockdown.

The national carrier is to suspend all domestic flights from Friday; it suspended regional fights last week.

SAA's Tlali Tlali said: “Recognising the fact that the decision has been put in place and it is something that is not of their making, the airline has taken the decision to provide them with one free travel change that will enable them to travel to their destinations before the national lockdown. This particular arrangement will be available on the basis of first come first served basis.”

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.