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CITY LOCKDOWN – DAY TWO

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Some taxis continue to break curfew

SOME taxis in Kimberley have continued to ignore the 9am curfew and continue to ferry commuters from Galeshewe to town.

While police visibility is low, several taxis have been seen transporting shoppers to the city and the malls. Most appear to have cut down on their passenger load and are carrying around seven to eight commuters at a time.

There are no blockades currently from Pniel Road to the malls and some taxis are taking advantage of the situation to ferry passengers. From their side, commuters have indicated that they are happy that there is still transport available. “We are happy that the taxis are breaking the curfew as we also need to get to the shops and get back home,” one commuter said. 

In Greenpoint, residents were seen carrying their groceries home as no taxis are running in this area. Police vans are currently driving around Greenpoint and Beaconsfield.

At the Galeshewe taxi rank, commuters have also been left stranded with their shopping bags as a heavy police force, with support from local traffic officers, stopped all taxis from operating.

One driver complained that he had spent thousands of rands on ensuring that he had the necessary safety measures, like hand sanitizers, gloves and masks, but was still not able to operate. “I am abiding with all the necessary safety precautions – I provide hand sanitizers and wear gloves – but I am being prevented from making a living. There are also many people who have now been left stranded because of this curfew.”

“We are hungry,” another taxi owner said. “We know there is nothing much we can do about the situation. We do not want to be arrested and have our taxis confiscated. We also can’t afford to face a fine of R10 000 or be arrested and have to wait for the 21 days to be over before we are released.”

A taxi marshall indicated that the people waiting for taxis were the same ones who came to town daily. 

The number of private vehicles on the roads this morning remains low, although there are a number of cars in the parking lots at local malls. 

Queues continue to form at some shops and supermarkets, especially at Shoprite and Checkers, but other stores, like Pick n Pay, remain relatively quiet. The police are monitoring queues at the malls and security personnel are ensuring that customers, as especially the busier shops, like Checkers at the Diamond Pavillion, are adhering to the 1m distance between people.

Concern has meanwhile been expressed about some spaza shops taking advantage of the lockdown and lack of transport by skyrocketing the price of their goods.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said yesterday that a total of 22 347 traffic officers across the country, to ensure compliance with the published Regulations and Directions.

He added that a number of reports of non-compliance had been received.

“The taxi industry has raised concerns relating to the requirement that passengers in a taxi cannot exceed 50% of its legal capacity. We will look into the matter and find a solution that does not undermine the purpose of the lockdown or compromise the principle of social distance,” Mbalula said.