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Upington taxi operators happy with new rules

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‘This new regulation is much better than the previous one.’

TAXI operators in Upington say that they are happy with the amended regulations on the loading of passengers announced by Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.

Mbalula said on Wednesday that taxi operators were now permitted to carry up to 70% of their passenger capacity during the lockdown.

The minister initially stated that operators could load up to 100% of their capacity if all passengers were wearing N95 respiratory masks or surgical masks. That revision was later retracted after a public outcry about the safety of commuters.

“There were concerns raised by the community regarding the 100% loading capacity. The public was not comfortable about this measure and we had to reconsider it. There was a public outcry about the impact of such a measure. We then had to review and reached a consensus of maximising the load capacity to 70%,” the minister said.

Mbalula said that the original regulation, which stated that taxi operators could only transport seven commuters at a time, meant that the industry was operating at a loss.

Operators in Upington indicated on Thursday that they were pleased with the amendment.

“This new regulation is much better than the previous one. We charge R13 per trip and are now able to buy a 5-litre diesel for R100. We are no longer running at a loss, which was initially the case,” they said.

They added that the time taken to drive to town was also a factor that had previously not been considered.

“It takes us about 30 minutes to complete a trip. There are five areas where we have to pick up and drop off people. These areas are located far from each other. Having to load just seven people meant that we were actually just doing the government a favour by transporting the people. We did not make any profit from those trips. 

“The majority of operators are driving 15-seater taxis. With 10 commuters, one can at least see what you have been working for.”