Braelyn Avanza taxi drivers down tools over Covid-19 restrictions

Police at a roadblock in East London check a taxi for overloading.
Police at a roadblock in East London check a taxi for overloading.
Image: Sandiso Phaliso

Avanza taxi drivers in Braelyn downed tools on Tuesday morning, refusing to take three passengers a trip for a “mere” R33 to East London CBD.

The journey from the area to the CBD usually costs R11 but, since the lockdown came into effect last week, the taxis drivers have been asking commuters to pay double the fare to make up for the four passengers they are unable to transport under regulations.

Under normal circumstances the drivers would pocket R77 per trip to the CBD.

Since transport minister Fikile Mbalula said taxis and buses should not ferry more than 50% of the vehicle’s capacity, the Avanza taxi drivers have been forced to load just three passengers at a time.

A meeting between the drivers and Braelyn commuters was held on Tuesday morning, but commuters refused to pay double the price, preferring to walk the 10km to the CBD instead.

Speaking on conditions of anonymity, the drivers said it was pointless to take three passengers on a 10km route for R33. “It does not make sense for the business we are in to continue taking passengers. We are running at a loss. We did not force people to pay double the amount but only those who can afford should. Some residents agree with us and others refuse.

“A decision was taken that we are not loading passengers any more until further notice,” said one driver. Sicelo Potwa, 31, said paying double the amount was “daylight robbery”.

“It's not us asking them to take three passengers. Why should we be the ones suffering? Everyone is suffering and taxis should also feel the pain. We rather walk than allow them to rob us like they do,” said Potwa.

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