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JHB taxi ranks experience high volumes of commuters ahead of lockdown

Despite Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula urging people not to travel to other provinces and districts during this period, there are long queues of travellers going to different provinces.

FILE. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN- As the clock counts down to midnight on Thursday, Joburg long-distance taxi ranks are experiencing high volumes of commuters leaving the City of Johannesburg.

Despite Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula urging people not to travel to other provinces and districts during this period, there are long queues of travellers going to different provinces.

The Wanderers long distance taxi rank is busier than usual as hundreds of people are leaving the city to spend the next three weeks with their families.

Most of those travelling are heading to provinces including KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.

Taxi rank marshals are providing hand sanitizers to passengers as they board taxis.

Other commuters are using protective gear such as masks and gloves, however, social distancing is not being applied as the queues continue to grow.

Some streets vendors said they were taking advantage of this situation before the shutdown.

SANTACO WORRIED AND CONFUSED

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) is confused and worried.

Santaco's Thabiso Molelekwa on Thursday said these measures were going to have a massive impact on the industry.

“The minister is not really clear about how this is going to impact our work. What it means is that only 10% of the total number of our taxis will be operational. Now, you are talking about 90% of whom you are not sure about compensation. You are talking about the owner, the driver whose salaries largely depend on taxis taking passengers from one point to the other.”

Molelekwa said there may be a serious socio-economic problem with this plan because there was no clear indication from government on what measures would be taken in a case where public transport was needed for an emergency.

“Since the announcement of the lockdown, the South African president, without success, made attempts to speak to the minister to say let’s sit down and speak to the minister and make it work. Santaco was not engaged.”

Molelekwa claims Santaco again on Wednesday night attempted to engage with government to no avail.

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