Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Pretoria: Essential transport services will continue to operate during the 21-day nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Minibus-taxis will be allowed to transport essential services workers and those allowed to make the necessary permitted movements,” Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said.

Addressing Wednesday’s media briefing by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster in Tshwane, the Minister said transport movements in this regard will be allowed to operate from 5am to 9am and again from 4pm to 8pm.

Operators must put measures in place to adhere to social distancing in order to curb the spread of the virus.

“All minibus-taxis must be sanitised after every trip. All taxi ranks must be sanitised at regular intervals. Where appropriate, government will provide assistance,” the Minister said.

As part of the relief measures for small businesses in distress, as announced by the President, taxis that have been financed by the National Taxi Finance [administered by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA)] will be granted a three-month repayment holiday.

Commercial banks are also considering similar measures.

Metered taxis and e-hailing services

Metered taxis and e-hailing vehicles will be allowed to transport essential services workers and those allowed to make the necessary permitted movements.

Transport movements in this regard will be allowed to operate from 5am to 9am and again from 4pm to 8pm.

“Metered taxis and e-hailing vehicles must be sanitised after each journey. The industry will take responsibility for this. Where appropriate, government will assist,” Mbalula said.

The number of passengers each vehicle is allowed to carry will be reduced.

“A vehicle licensed to carry up to four people will only be permitted to load one person.  A vehicle licensed to carry up to eight passengers will only be permitted to load a maximum of three passengers,” he said.

Sanitisers used in all taxi vehicles must have a minimum of 60% alcohol content.

Limited bus operations will be allowed to transport essential services workers and those allowed to make the necessary permitted movements.

“All cross-border road passenger movements will be prohibited for the duration of the lockdown. Cross-border freight movement for essential goods will continue to and from our neighbouring countries,” the Minister said.

Rail

All long-distance passenger rail services, both public and private, will stop operations for the duration of the lockdown.

“Services of Shosholoza Meyl, Premier Classe and Blue Train operated by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and Transnet, respectively, have already been suspended.  The new regulations mean that private rail operators such as Rovos Rail will also cease operations,” the Minister said.

All commuter rail services will shut down for the duration of the lockdown.  This includes all Metrorail and Gautrain services.

“All international and domestic flights are prohibited, irrespective of the risk category of the country of origin. Only essential air cargo will be allowed. However, cargo from high risk countries must be sanitised,” the Minister said.

He said the ban on cruise ships calling at any of South Africa’s sea ports will be strictly enforced.

Essential cargo will be allowed at eight sea ports.  However, cargo from high risk countries must be sanitized.

Transport services

During the lockdown period, most services rendered by the Department of Transport entities will be suspended.

Vehicle testing centres and drivers’ licence testing centres (DLTCs) will be closed.

“Should your driver’s licence expire during the duration of the lockdown, it shall be deemed to remain valid until the end of the lockdown, with the grace period of renewal within 14 working days thereafter – unless otherwise determined,” the Minister said.

Skelton staff will be maintained for purposes of safe road operations, clearing of accidents, maintenance of tunnels as well as road traffic enforcement.