A taxi driver sanitises passengers in Louis Trichardt before they are allowd to board the taxi. Photo by Kaizer Nengovhela.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation again about the latest lockdown regulations and he encouraged citizens to avoid the three Cs: closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact with others. On Saturday, we paid a visit to two of the local taxi ranks to see whether drivers, commuters, and vendors adhere to the regulations.
“I am aware that crowded places like taxi ranks could be Covid-19 super-spreading areas, but really, this is my workplace,” said *Moriya, a fruit vendor at the taxi rank at the Shoprite complex in Louis Trichardt. For the past five years she has been supporting her family by selling fruit at the taxi rank. Three of Moriya’s children live with her, while the other two are being looked after by her mother at her home in Zimbabwe.
Explaining how she tries to keep herself safe from contracting or spreading the virus at her place of work, Moriya said, “I have to make sure I wear a facemask that covers my mouth and nose. I carry a bottle of sanitiser whesever I go. I sanitize every time money changes hands.” Her small bottle of sanitiser was on a table at her stand.
At the Musina taxi rank, commuters who intended to travel to Polokwane were being addressed by the rank marshal. “Please pass through this place for sanitization. Wear your masks properly; it must cover the nose and mouth.” Commuters were sanitised and directed to where they could get taxis travelling to Polokwane.
Limpopo Mirror followed them to observe the process. Before boarding the taxis, some commuters decided to first buy fruit from vendors at the taxi rank. The vendors all sanitized the commuters before exchanging any money.
“We are very cautious of this second wave of Covid-19, and we are very strict here at our taxi rank,” said the rank marshal, who then continued to check whether commuters were wearing their masks properly.
Edwin Tshangwani, chairperson of the Musina-Louis Trichardt Taxi Association, said: “We are doing all we can to make taxi ranks and our commuters safe from Covid-19. We sanitise our taxis after every trip and make sure all commuters are sanitised as they get into taxis. All drivers have to have a bottle of sanitiser, in case they pick up a commuter on the way. Strictly no entry in any of our taxis if one is not wearing a mask.”
Tshangwani is making a plea to government to make more sanitisers available to the taxi industry, as a high demand exists for it in this industry.
Limpopo Transport and Community Safety MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya has initiated a programme to disinfect facilities at taxi ranks in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19. This follows reports of increasing cases of Covid19 among taxi operators and drivers, which pose a serious health risk to public-transport users.
The programme is aimed at ensuring that taxi operators, drivers, queue marshals, commuters, and cleaners, among others, understand the health protocols and the need for behaviour change. The MEC will launch the disinfection programme in at least one taxi rank in each district.
The fumigation programme of local taxi ranks is arranged as follows: Makhado Shoprite complex taxi rank is to be disinfected on 22 January 2021 at 09:00 and Thohoyandou Spar taxi rank on 22 January 2021 at 14:00.
* Not her real name.
Date:21 January 2021 - By: Bernard Chiguvare
Bernard Chiguvare is a Zimbabwean-born journalist. He writes mainly for the online publication, Groundup.