GARDEN ROUTE NEWS AND VIDEO - Taxi drivers have to take responsibility to ensure the survival of their business. Although people have been in lockdown for a very long time, we cannot afford to let our guard down now.
That was the message of Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, Bonginkosi Madikizela, when he visited taxi ranks in Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay on Monday 14 December.
The visit formed part of his continued drive to spread information about Covid-19, to encourage travellers to follow the golden rules of hygiene, and to ensure that public transport operators and passengers comply with the regulations.
Madikizela said the Western Cape Government was very worried about the situation in the Garden Route.
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"Taxi drivers, your business depends on our success in stopping the virus," he told taxi drivers in Knysna. He was firm that anyone in their taxis who did not want to wear a mask should be told to get out.
"This is about taking responsibility. I am not in favour of babysitting people; we need to be harsh ... we need to enforce this," he said.
Madikizela said people have lockdown fatigue. "The level of compliance we saw during the early stages of Covid-19 is no longer there." However, he stressed that people could not afford to let their guard down, given the fact that we have been hit by the second wave. "That is why, as the Transport Minister in the Western Cape, I want to make sure my industry complies with the regulations."
Knysna Mayor Elrick van Aswegen said he wanted to protect his town and that was why certain areas were closed. "I ask the taxi industry to protect its business. If you want to meet with me, you can come to my office. I have an open door policy," he said.
Madikizela came to the George taxi rank mere hours before President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on new Covid-regulations. He was accompanied by George Mayor Leon van Wyk and Garden Route District Municipality Mayor Memory Booysen.
Madikizela said he had noticed that many people are not following the health protocols. If it is expected of passengers to wear masks and sanitise their hands, the drivers must lead by example. A taxi driver has a responsibility to make sure all passengers wear masks.
There have been cases where, when minibus taxis were ready to leave, everybody, including the drivers, were wearing their masks, but as soon as they left, they took the masks off. He reiterated that the drivers have to take responsibility to call people to order.
He asked people to work together.
Noticing that the mask of one of the attendees was not fitting correctly, he took time to help the person adjust it.
Van Wyk said the health system is under pressure and something has to be done to relieve it. He added his voice to Madikizela's in asking people to work together.
Booysen said the Garden Route cannot afford to have a full lockdown again. The impact on the economy would be too big. We must ensure that the economy can go on and the movement of people is still possible. He emphasised that it will all depend on society working together.
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