Source: Business Insider
This week, government gazetted new regulations for vehicle owners and public transport during the latest phase of the national lockdown.
The regulations, released on Monday, specified that no vehicles – either private or public transport – were allowed on the roads outside of 05:00 to 20:00, with a grace period of an hour, “to complete a journey”, to 21:00.
But on Wednesday, transport minister Fikile Mbalula gazetted a change to that regulation. Now, public transport – which includes minibus taxis – can operate from 05:00 to 19:00 only, with no mention of a grace period. Instead “the driver must ensure that the drop off is completed by 19:00.”
The section governing the permitted times of private vehicles on the road – a curious inclusion in regulations about public transport in the first place – has been deleted by the same amendment. This presumably means that private car owners can be on the road only till 20:00, when the national curfew starts.
Public transport will only be allowed outside of these hours if it is a chartered service for Level 4 workers, which has been arranged by an employer. The transport owners will have to present documentation to confirm this.
Under back-to-work rules some workers, including restaurant and delivery staff, are allowed to work until 19:00.
A major taxi strike is underway in Johannesburg this morning, causing chaos as commuters try to get to work.
Major transport routes – including the N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria at Allandale, the M1, N12 and the N3 – have been blocked. Traffic has ground to a halt, causing road users to be stranded in traffic jams backing up for kilometres.
According to EWN, drivers affiliated to South Africa National Taxi Council (Santaco) have gone on strike on Thursday morning after talks with SA Taxi Finance Holdings deadlocked. The association argues that the monthly instalments on the Toyota Quantums it uses are simply unaffordable at prime plus 10%.
People urged to stay at home
The Gauteng Education Department says it will be safer for parents to keep their children at home today. A number of large corporates in Johannesburg’s CBD have advised their employees to stay at home too.
Shots have been fired
There have been reports of gunshots fired as taxis congregated near the Mall of Africa at the Allandale Road off-ramp.
Costs for commuters
Commuters have taken to Twitter to voice their frustrations at being unable to get around the city. Aside from an inability to get to work and the financial implications of losing a day’s wage, people are also citing lost opportunities (such as job interviews) as well as the dangers of taking lifts from strangers to meet commitments (which could result in kidnap, rape or human trafficking).
Image credit: Traffic SA