Limit on taxi passengers a challenge for drivers.
Taxi drivers said they understood that the government was trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but pointed out that they were experiencing financial pressure as a result of the limitation.
According to the new regulation imposed by the Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, only seven people are allowed to be transported in a taxi per trip. Taxi operators said they were not making any profit and had to fork out more for petrol.
“These are very tough times. We were not consulted about the number of passengers allowed and were merely issued with the instructions. Limiting the number of people per trip to seven people is costing us as we now have to pay more for petrol. We pay about R100 for a trip to town. With only seven passengers, we only make R70. That means we run at a loss,” they said.
They added that the operating hours also needed to be considered.
“We are happy that the hours have been extended to accommodate the payment of Sassa grants. The previous operating hours of 7am until 9am and 4pm until 6pm did not suit the commuters. We transported people to work but then had to leave them stranded. The new operating hours need to be maintained for the remainder of the lockdown,” they said.
A high-presence of vigilant police and traffic officials were seen patrolling the taxi rank during the course of Monday.
Some officials kept an eye on the numbers of commuters loaded into the taxis.
Taxi operators meanwhile accused the police of not ensuring that private vehicles also adhered to the rules.
“There are some operators who received warnings from the police. What is frustrating is that the police do not clamp down on the owners of private vehicles but only target the taxis.
“Some people are overloading their cars with passengers yet the regulation states that only two people are allowed in a car. We are always monitored and seen as the bad guys.”
They unanimously agreed that although times are tough, they would adhere to the regulations.
“We will and have to abide by the regulations. Everyone wants this virus to pass in order for things to return to normal,” they said.