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How some essential services workers in CT, eThekwini & Zandspruit are coping

This was expected to have a detrimental effect on workers who performed essential services and relied on public transport to commute between their homes and places of work.

People queue for taxis at the Baragwanath taxi rank on 27 March 2020. Picture: Kgomotso Modise/EWN

DURBAN/ JOHANNESBURG/ CAPE TOWN – The eThekwini Metro Taxi Council (EMTC) on Friday morning decided to suspend all taxi operations in the Durban CBD.

This is expected to have a detrimental effect on workers who performed essential services and relied on public transport to commute between their homes and places of work.

The EMTC said while it was in support of the national lockdown, there was a communication breakdown between it and eThekwini City officials.

The secretary of the EMTC Mathula Mkhize said it didn’t make business sense to carry seven passengers in a single taxi.

“Here we are talking about a half price of normal operation. If you’re telling us that this time of the day you need seven people to be in a 15-seater taxi [it won’t work],” he said.

Mkhize said all workers and commuters who wanted to use their services had until 10am on Friday morning to do so.

“We will take the shortfall of transporting those people until 10am.”

He said the new regulations had not been communicated properly to them, but they were open to discussing this issue further with officials from the eThekwini Municipality.

EARLY MORNING SHOPPERS

Groups of women in Zandspruit, west of Joburg, on Friday morning were making their way to the shops, which would remain open during the national lockdown, saying their employers only deposited their wages in the morning.

They told Eyewitness News they were well aware of the risks of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) as they headed out to the streets, but they couldn’t stay home on empty stomachs.

Among the group of people spotted was a visibly heavily pregnant young woman. She is also a domestic worker and like everyone else she was embarking on the risky long walk to the nearby shops.

Aware of her vulnerability to the COVID-19 infection, she said she had no choice but to get out on in the morning.

“I went to the shops yesterday, but I found long queues and I thought it would be best to wake up this morning to get in line first,” said one of the women.

Domestic workers in South Africa earn anything between R2,000 and R4,500 monthly depending on their employer’s generosity in spite of set sectoral determinations, which were largely ignored.

The women conceded that the likelihood of running out of food and other essentials during this time was high as they would not be drawing any income.

As they marched on to the shops where they would find even more people queueing, all they had in mind was surviving the next 21 days.

PETROL ATTENDANTS

Petrol attendants at a filling station along Jakkalsvlei Avenue, in Bonteheuwel, Cape Town, could be seen talking among themselves.

They were allowed to work as they provided an essential service. They told EWN they started work at 6 am and it had been very quiet.

Martin Jonga said the filling station was usually very busy on a normal day.

“It’s been quiet since we started working at 6 am. We are working but there are no people coming who want petrol,” he said.

Elsewhere in Bonteheuwel, residents were staying indoors and there was a handful of people about.

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