As the annual busy festive season falls on South Africa and the world the focus suddenly shifts to road safety.
Although this time around the circumstances have changed with the Covid-19 coronavirus tearing countries apart and adding to the already stretched national budget’s constrain, it would be fair to states that there may not be many vehicles on the roads as some employers have reportedly closed down their businesses between early March and May because some suppliers and customers could not meet their financial obligations.
This then leaves much of the work to ensure that other road users are safe in the hands of men and women tasked with manning the country’s major roads faced with a big challenge. The first challenge of course will be to ensure that motorists who will be on the road adhere to the rules of the roads. These are always rules that they know fully well; that driving under the influence of alcohol is a very serious punishable offense; that driving an overloaded vehicle for of not fit for the road is unlawful in the country and that over speeding is also an offense. But these rules will now come under a different new environment all together where the coronavirus pandemic has added an extra burden to all stakeholders.
Under the current Covid-19 regulations if it is found that a passenger in a vehicle tests positive for the disease, that would mean that all those in the same vehicle with that person will have to isolate for 14 days. A tough ask if industry may say that. The challenge now facing the minibus taxi industry is that everyone wants to speak. Another challenge still facing the taxi sector is that passengers come from different directions may not have been tested all at once. Does the industry still have testing stations as the attention now shifts to the festive time? If the answer to these questions is no then chances are that the much feared second wave of Covid-19 may even worsen during the festive season. If the answer to the questions is yes, that would mean that it would be at least save to use the public transport system.
Both the national and provincial traffic authorities and their health counterparts would be hard at work trying to ensure that Covid-19 regulations by motorists are followed because there is just so much at stake here. The taxi industry, through the Hlokomela and Ndlela Nhle safety campaigns, respectively, has vowed to tackle and deal with bad elements from their ranks to ensure that passengers are safe and do not see the taxis in a bad way.
We would like to wish all our stakeholders and business partners as well as road users a safe Christmas and a happy New Year as we await the announcement that the country would in future return to normal life.