Minister of Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, called on the taxi industry to adhere to COVID-19 lockdown regulations and give the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) a chance to deliberate on some of the concerns raised by the industry.
During a virtual media briefing, Mbalula said the Department of Transport has taken the industry's proposals to the NCCC.
“Government needs to have a holistic view” when considering the proposals that are before the command council, he said.
But there seems to be no trust left between government and the taxi industry and on Monday taxis loaded their full capacity, defying the lockdown regulations.
During alert level 3, minibus taxis are allowed to carry only 70% od their loading capacity.
“The top structures have tried to engage with the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, and he postponed I think three meetings with our leadership. So our structures took a decision that we should load at 100% capacity.
We know it is risky to load at 100% capacity, but our cars are going to be repossessed by financial institutions so now it's business as normal,” said Public Relations Officer for Pretoria, Randburg and Soshanguve (PRS) taxi association, Robert Mola.
The PRS taxi association said government is “slow” and the taxi industry could no longer wait for a resolution while they're getting deeper in trouble financially.
On Sunday South African National Taxi Association (SANTACO) ordered its members to load their taxis at full capacity and long distance taxis to start operating.
Taxi operator, Andreas Mokoena, said they want to operate at full capacity because this will ensure that they can pay their vehicle instalments. He added that taxi owners are currently unable to pay their full instalments.
At the same time, some commuters said they are aware of the risks but they don’t have any choice because they have to go to work.
Minister Mbalula said the industry would get feedback from government later this week.