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JOHANNESBURG/DURBAN - Minibus taxis at three major ranks in the Joburg CBD are now loading to capacity in violation of the lockdown regulations.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has ordered its drivers to ignore the 70% capacity regulation tabled by government, which was put in place level 5, arguing its members have lost billions of rands since the lockdown was announced.

They’re also protesting government’s R1.1 billion relief package saying it doesn’t go far enough to help the industry.

The taxi industry appears to be returning to pre-lockdown operations, filling vehicles to capacity and breaking the law in the process.

At the Metro and Bree street taxi ranks, marshals are hard at work loading taxis and advising commuters to give others space
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The situation is the same at the Noord taxi rank and commuters appear to have no say about their lives being put in danger.

The transport ministry’s Ayanda Allie-Paine said it’s regrettable that the industry had taken this unlawful route.

“Minister Mbalula condemns in the strongest possible terms any and every encouragement of taxi officers to violate the law.”

Several police cars and members of the army have been deployed to the Noord taxi rank.

The taxi council’s KwaZulu-Natal branch said it wanted government to allocate R20,000 per minibus taxi to cushion operators against losses they incurred during the lockdown.

Government is currently offering R5,000 per vehicle and its asked taxi owners to share the funds with drivers.

Taxi bosses in KZN said they would consider reducing the number of commuters per vehicle but only if government made them a fair offer.

Santaco KZN office manager Sifiso Shangase said taxi drivers had been subjected to roadblocks throughout the province since they started working on Monday morning but there was no need to call for a shutdown yet.

“We started at 4 am and we are loading at 100% capacity. But, we have not had an incident or a case of being charged in the province for now.”

Shangase said they remained open to negotiations with government: “We are all logical and reasonable human beings. If government comes with a proper offer, I think our leadership will be able to engage.”

KZN Community Safety MEC Bheki Ntuli said he had asked law enforcement agencies to develop a response plan to possible anarchy linked to the taxi industry.

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This article first appeared on EWN : JHB taxis defy the law and load vehicles to 100% capacity

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