For all the latest news about the coronavirus, click here.

For all the latest news about the coronavirus, click here.

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport on Monday morning started piloting measures to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 at minibus taxi ranks by using walk-in sanitation tunnels

According to the department, it is part of a month-long programme to test solutions mainly derived from interventions adopted by the Gautrain Management Agency.

MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo, together with Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo, tested the implementation of the tunnels and other social distancing innovations at the Bara Taxi Rank in Diepkloof.

Gauteng taxi industry leaders and the South African National Taxi Council formed part of the programme.

“As one of the biggest public transport modes in the country, learnings derived from the pilot will be rolled out in major taxi ranks across the province,” the department said.

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“These measures are in addition to programmes that are already in place, including the disinfection of minibuses after every trip, loading of 70% of the vehicle’s capacity and the sanitisation of commuters’ hands, which are standard operating models.”

The minibus taxi industry, as the largest people mover in Gauteng, faces a huge risk of spreading the virus due to its interactive nature.

“We are on high alert and we do not want the public transport system to be the weakest link in the battle against Covid-19. As more people return to work, we are stepping [up] our efforts to ensure that taxis and buses do not contribute to the spread of the virus,” Mamabolo said.

The MEC, the mayor and taxi industry leaders will also conduct a site inspection at the Dobsonville Putco depot on Monday morning as part of the programme. This pilot project is part of a province-wide programme to reorganise taxi ranks and to make the Gauteng government’s vision of “Smart Mobility” a reality.

“With the outbreak of Covid-19, it is clear that commuting will never be the same again,” said Mamabolo.

Speaking from the Bara Taxi Rank, the MEC said there are 881 taxi ranks in the province. “We want to replicate and expand [these measures] to other taxi ranks throughout the province.”

Mamabolo added that there has been an increase in activity at taxi ranks since the implementation of Level 4 lockdown regulations as many people head back to work.

“We therefore felt it was important to strengthen and improve our capacity to take effective control and create a level of order at taxi ranks to allow us to ensure that the required activities to combat Covid-19 are implemented.”