Taxis stopped in the Eastern Cape ahead of Easter

Image via: @MadikizelaBongz / Twitter

Watch: Countless taxis charge for Eastern Cape ahead of Easter

Queues of taxis and other vehicles, on their way to the Eastern Cape for Easter, were stopped by law enforcement on Friday.

Taxis stopped in the Eastern Cape ahead of Easter

Image via: @MadikizelaBongz / Twitter

It’s Good Friday, Easter celebrations are in the air and lockdown regulations are officially out of the door. Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works Bonginkosi Madikizela, on Friday 10 April, confirmed that troops of taxis were stopped after they tried to enter the Eastern Cape — many of them from the Western Cape. 

“I note with serious concern the number of minibus taxis who are not adhering to transport regulations and are travelling to, amongst others, the Eastern Cape during this Easter weekend,” he said. 

This comes 24 hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the 21-day lockdown period would be extended until the end of April. 

Watch: Taxis stopped en route to Eastern Cape

Roadblocks set up to avoid unnecessary Easter movement 

Madikizela said provincial traffic proactively planned for the movement of vehicles on roads, however, it didn’t stop taxis from trying to get their passengers to the Eastern Cape — this all taking place amid a nationwide lockdown. 

“There was a special focus on the Easter weekend with roadblocks starting on Thursday and ending on Monday,” he said. 

Madikizela said roadblocks were set up at the Huguenot tunnel, Rawsonville weighbridge and at the N1 Matjiesfontein. 

“There was also a fixed roadblock on the R61 outside Beaufort West last night. This is where many were stopped,” he said. 

“All our operations are aimed at enforcing the regulations and monitoring the movement of public transport vehicles especially those who are travelling to other provinces for funerals,” he said. 

According to DispatchLive, however, some travellers, desperate to get home and spend Easter with their families in the Eastern Cape, have procured false death certificates. According to lockdown regulations, people may travel between provinces if they need to attend funerals, provided they have the requisite documentation.

“During these operations, our officers found that some of the minibus taxis were not adhering to transport regulations. Many were overloaded and other passengers did not have the necessary documentation permitting them to be on the road,” said Madikizela. 

“Some vehicles including taxis have bypassed main roads and have succeeded to sneak through to the Eastern Cape without permits. Those must be returned and face the consequences,” he added. 

Image via: @MadikizelaBongz / Twitter
Image via: @MadikizelaBongz / Twitter

Taxis stopped in Eastern Cape

Many taxis actually managed to reach the Eastern Cape but were then prevented to go any further at a roadblock at Aberdeen.

Eastern Cape transport department spokesperson Unathi Binqose speaking to DispatchLive confirmed the influx of people to the province.      

“We are grappling with a huge number of people who are trying to enter the Eastern Cape. Seemingly the extension of the lockdown has caused unnecessary panic among some of our people, so they decided to pack their bags and come back home,” he said.

“We encourage those who are wanting to come to the Eastern Cape to stay at home, remain where you are, because you are going to encounter some problems when you get to our borders,” he said.  

“We cannot allow people to break the law. We cannot allow people to move up and down. I can tell you now, a lot of the people stuck at the border now will be forced to go back to where they come from,” he added. 

Social distancing on public transport is critical 

Madikizela said he would like to reassure the people of the Western Cape and South Africa that the department will not allow any illegal operations on the roads.

“Social distancing on public transport is critical if we are to stop the spread,” he said.  

Public transport can be used only for rendering essential services, obtaining essential goods or services, seeking medical attention, funeral services and for collecting payment of grants and pensions.

“Essential services workers using public transport must carry a permit from their employer proving their status,” he added.