Is the Government adding to the confusion of the 21-day lockdown? President Cyril Ramaphosa announces that the SANDF army would be enforcing the lockdown. Citizens have witnessed the beatings and humiliating tactics of the authorities to little effect.
The greatest of all dithering came regarding the policy on taxi loading capacity. Initially the regulations on COVID-19 lockdown prescribed a 50% loading capacity, however when taxi operators threatened to go on a national strike Transport Minister Fikle Mbalula backtracked, announcing that, “during the lockdown period, all minibus and midi-bus taxi vehicles are permitted to load their maximum 100% passenger loading capacity as provided for in their operating licenses, provided that all passengers are wearing surgical masks or N95 respiratory masks.
“The consultation process also included relevant structures within government and individual ministers. In consulting with the taxi industry, I have engaged the leadership of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA).”
However, just hours after announcing that taxis were allowed to carry the full load with masks conditions, this decision was rescinded yet to another, this time, the latest 70% capacity.
These changes to the lockdown came because the Transport Minister said the measures were all about saving lives and stopping the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
Now honestly, we all know that this is not a lockdown if mass number of people are able to move around long distances. The idea of a lockdown is to curb the traffic from interacting at close proximities to each other. We are already familiar to the cramped living conditions within townships.
Now despite the Transport Minister’s precautionary measures would it not be ridiculous to assume that he is placing the great many at risk being sat in a taxi? Would the government be accountable to the lives of those they are placing now in harm’s way? How do you practise a 2-metre physical distancing in a taxi?
Lockdown means lockdown, and the dilution of the President’s speech to the actions of the Transport Minister merely adds confusion to the efforts to contain the virus. Whether it is a full, large or small load, it is a health hazard.
Or is this to do with the pressure being placed on the government to strong-arm them to relent? Would it be interesting to enquire with the WHO on their take of current actions?