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Santaco welcomes revised 70% lockdown regulations for taxis

This after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula made an about-turn on Wednesday night on his decision to allow taxis to be filled to capacity on condition that all passengers had face masks on.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula addresses members of the Gauteng traffic police, taxi associations and commuters outside the MTN Noord taxi rank on 1 April 2020. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) on Thursday welcomed Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s decision to rescind the amended regulations for taxis for the duration of the lockdown.

Mbalula made an about-turn on Wednesday night on his decision to allow taxis to be filled to capacity on condition that all passengers had face masks on.

This after he held talks with Santaco on Monday as they had threatened to strike over the shortened operating hours and smaller loads of passengers.

WATCH: Commuters must wear masks in taxis with full capacity - Mbalula

After its meeting with Mbalula, Santaco told Eyewitness News that they had rejected government’s offer to fill the taxis to capacity, saying it would put the lives of commuters at risk.

The taxi body said they had agreed for taxi loads to move from 50% to 70%.

However, during his address at the MTN Taxi Rank in Joburg CBD, Mbalula said taxi drivers could fill their taxis 100% provided they gave each commuter a surgical or N95 respiratory mask.

Santaco spokesperson Thabiso Molelekwa said they always knew this was a bad idea.

“We said it was not a viable option as it exposed the lives of people more than it benefited the taxi industry,” Molelekwa said.

Mbalula then said due to the public outcry about safety they had decided to limit taxi loads to 70%, saying this decision was final.

But with the transport ministry putting its foot down on regulations for the taxi industry, it seems there's still confusion around the precautions to be taken during the shutdown.

Mbalula said masks were, however, still a requirement.

“From 50% to 70% and with the provision of masks on top of that and sanitisers. We will provide masks as the department and sanitisers.”

But it seems this message has not reached the country’s taxi bodies - Santaco and the National Taxi Alliance.

Malelekwa said: “The law that we understand is that 70% loading capacity does not require masks.”

While Mbalula has promised that the health department will provide the masks, it’s unclear how the plan will be rolled out and whether there will be enough for each load, on every taxi nationwide for the next 14 days.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.

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