Taxi lockdown

Bara Taxi rank – Potch road Soweto Johannesburg / Image via Brand SA

Lockdown SA: Taxis will only operate under ‘special’ circumstances

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says that he’ll elaborate on the ‘special measures’ planned for public transport later today.

Taxi lockdown

Bara Taxi rank – Potch road Soweto Johannesburg / Image via Brand SA

Despite fervent pleas from taxi associations, Mbalula has revealed that the COVID-19 lockdown will extend to all forms of public transport.

As tangible strategies of enforcement and socioeconomic impact begin to crystallise ahead of the planned three-week lockdown, the stringent regulations, authorised by President Cyril Ramaphosa under the National Disaster Management Act, are likely to put the brakes on most forms of public transport.

Initial uncertainty, noted by South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa, was largely put to rest on Wednesday morning, when Mbalula announced that e-hailing services – namely Bolt and Uber – along with taxis and trains, will be forced to suspend operations until 16 April 2020.

Taxis and the SA lockdown: What are the special circumstances?

Mbalula, who spent most of Wednesday locked in meetings with the National Command Council tasked with solidifying and overseeing protocol relating to the lockdown, spoke to 702 Radio’s Eusebius McKaiser prior to his official media briefing, saying:

“A lockdown is a lockdown – they [taxis] will not be operating.”

The transport minister did, however, add that there were “special measures” in place to assist limited operations involving the public transport sector. Mbalula noted that these measures would be dealt with in finer detail during an official press briefing.

Mbalula said that one of the recommendations tabled would be to allow taxis to operate during peak hours. The transport minister added:

“We’re looking at allocating time for the operation of taxis… in the morning peak [traffic] and the afternoon; during the day [taxis will be] locked down.

Trains… we’re looking at not [having them operate] at all. Long-distance [train transport] has been shut down.”

Transport of essential workers will be catered for

Mbalula added that workers classified as “essential” under provisions of the National Disaster Management Act would be catered for in terms of transportation to and from their places of work.

The transport minister is expected to provide further clarity and certainty regarding the “special circumstances” under which taxis can operate at a late-afternoon media briefing.