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Transport Dept's ability to provide masks, sanitiser in taxis questioned

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has promised that his department would provide masks and sanitiser for taxi commuters.

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 - Amid fears of facial masks becoming a scarce resource, the Transport Department’s ability to provide taxi drivers with protective gear against COVID-19 is being questioned.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has promised that his department would provide masks and sanitiser for taxi commuters.

The department has amended regulations twice this week, ultimately limiting drivers to a 70% load of passengers.

Mbalula said it would be the work of his department to provide taxis with masks and sanitiser.

This comes amid reports of hospitals in at least three provinces were running out of masks.

Transport economist Joachim Vermooten said it was improbable that the department’s plan would work.

“They need to actually combine with the activities of the taxi association. I don’t think that the department on its own can achieve this.”

But the South African National Taxi Council said they knew nothing about masks in the new regulations.

The minister has not disclosed his plan on how the procurement and the distribution of the masks will work, nationwide.

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