Fear of stricter lockdown puts long distance public transport operators on edge
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Pretoria - Long distance public transport operators are pleading with President Cyril Ramaphosa to consider them should the country be placed on a stricter lockdown.
In his address to the nation on Sunday, in which he detailed developments regarding the coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of the Omicron variant, Ramaphosa said current lockdown regulations would be reviewed in a week to see how effective they are in containing a resurgence of the disease.
SA National Taxi Council Gauteng secretary, Khazamula Tshabalala, said they were pleading with the president not to place the country on a hard lockdown, or to impose an inter-provincial travel ban, because this could negatively impact their business.
Shabalala said he hoped the sector would be considered by those in power because this was their busiest time of the year.
He said one of their biggest challenges was getting young people, specifically students, to adhere to the regulations, especially when travelling long distances.
“Most of our taxi drivers are vaccinated and we do adhere to all the Covid-19 regulations and encourage our commuters to also do the same, so we can only hope that the spread is contained so that we can continue with business,” he said.
A number of countries, including the UK and some EU states, have imposed a travel ban on South Africa after the discovery of the Omicron variant last Thursday.
However, Ramaphosa and Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla said this decision was premature.
“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our Southern African sister countries,” the president said.
Ramaphosa added that the prohibition of travel would not be effective in preventing the spread of the Omicron variant.
“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to and recover from the pandemic.”