In an effort to enhance contact tracing capabilities, all taxi commuters will be required to sign a register.
This is the latest word from Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who, on Tuesday afternoon, conducted an oversight visit to Ivory Park taxi rank in Gauteng.
Addressing drivers and passengers, Mbalula reiterated the need for heightened safety protocols in the public transport sector.
Screening of all taxi passengers
South Africa's overburdened public transport sector presents a particularly problematic condition during the time of COVID-19. While, during lockdown, taxis have been allowed to operate on limited timetables and decreased capacities, the pending relaxation of regulations, as South Africa makes its move to Level 3, will see a sudden influx of commuters.
Mbalula announced that the inevitable increase in commuter volume — which raises the risk of local infections — would need to be accompanied by a series of health and safety initiatives. During his address to Ivory Park travellers, Mbalula explained the redefined protocol as a step-by-step guide:
All commuters, drivers and taxi rank staff must wear a face mask at all times
- Commuters will be screened before entering a taxi[*]If the screening raises alarm, a COVID-19 test will be conducted on-site
Mbalula added that, in addition to masks, sanitizers and social distancing protocols, all passengers would be required to sign a register, explaining:
"This drive requires taxi drivers and marshals to test for COVID-19 and underlying conditions.
More, we will now require that passengers in the taxi must sign a register when they get in for contact tracing."
Transformation of the taxi industry
Addressing the fierce financial impact on the taxi industry, as a result of the nationwide lockdown, Mbalula noted that government had offered its assistance the operators and owners. Coupled with this financial assistance, Mbalula said that he was on a mission to transform and professionalise the taxi industry, explaining:
"I am in the process of regulating and transforming and formalising the taxi industry…
In principal, we have agreed to support the taxi industry financially. In the next coming week or so I should be able to come back and report on the details in terms of financial support."
Although taxis and local bus services have been allowed to operate, albeit under stringent regulations, during Level 4 and 5 lockdown – the move to Level 3, which is expected before June, could see MetroRail return to action.