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Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has rescinded his earlier decision of allowing taxis to carry a full load of passengers

They would only be allowed a loading capacity of 70% and not a full load as many operators had wished for, he said.

Mbalula had earlier announced taxis could only carry seven passengers to adhere to physical distancing measures. He made the decision soon after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Mbalula said his decision to stop taxis from transporting full loads was to prevent people from infecting one another.

Taxis, which transport millions of people on a daily basis, have been identified as one of the modes of transportation whereby the virus could easily be spread.

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Mbalula rescinded his earlier decision after meeting with taxi operators.

“The unintended consequence of this reduction was an industry operating at a loss as a result of these regulations. The regulations on the Covid-19 lockdown prescribed a 50% loading capacity.

“Proposals for a 70% loading capacity for taxis were duly considered as well as a proposal for a 100% loading capacity, with the compulsory mitigation measure of the prescribed N95 respiratory mask as a precondition for all passengers.”

Mbalula said some of the concerns he had received from members of the public were about the 100% loading capacity and the utilisation of masks as a mitigation measure.

“The public was not comfortable with these measures and urged us to reconsider them. After our announcement of catering for 100%, there was a public outcry about the impact of such an arrangement to the health and safety of public transportation users.

“We took these issues seriously and engaged with key stakeholders, resulting in a consensus of maximising the loading capacity to 70%. We urge the taxi industry to accept these declared measures.”

The new ministerial directions on the new amendment will be published soon for immediate implementation.

Mbalula urged members of the public and taxi operators to take preventative measures to mitigate against the spread of the virus.

“The government will undertake a programme to assist with the distribution of masks. We also urge operators to continue to sanitise the taxis and to provide hand sanitisers to the public.”

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