The Effects of The Lockdown on Townships

Article by Khanyi Moshia

Today marks the second day of the official lockdown as per President Cyril Ramaphosa’s orders on the 23rd of March 2020. While others are adhering to the lockdown rules by staying indoors and avoiding congested places like shopping malls, some are finding it hard to get by. So, how does the lockdown affect people who live in the townships? 

Transport restrictions 

The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula made it clear that public transport and e-hailing services were to only operate between 05:00 and 09:00, as well as 16:00 – 20:00. As much as limiting movement is necessary for combating the spread of the Coronavirus, how are people who come from townships like Alexandra, meant to get around to buy their essentials? 

The time limit on public transportation doesn’t cater for the majority of people who don’t have cars so they can go and get their essentials without congesting shopping malls. 

A lot of people posed these questions to the minister, as they were inflexible for the lower class – especially in townships, and that has since been revised (today) by the government whereby buses, taxis, and e-hailing services can be used by the public to get their essentials. 

Local shopping malls  

In a third world country like South Africa, many of the citizens find themselves living from hand to mouth due to the high poverty and unemployment rate. As soon as the President announced the social distancing and lockdown, those who are privileged found themselves filling shopping malls and stock-piling. 

Unfortunately, that is a pipe dream for an ordinary person from a township as they had to wait before getting paid (a week later), and for their day off to get their basic needs. 

In an attempt to keep less than 100 people in the same place, local shopping malls only allow 50 people into the mall to get their essentials – so obviously, you will find long queues outside of township malls as people are still scrambling to get their essentials at a time where they’re meant to be indoors. Why is that? They don’t have the money to panic-buy like the privileged and they don’t live in houses that would allow them to store large quantities of groceries. 

Living conditions 

Most townships, like Alexandra are overpopulated. One yard houses about 6-10 different families which use one outside toilet and tap (if they’re fortunate enough to have those). This makes it hard for such people to self-quarantine because in a case whereby one member of the family gets the Coronavirus, they don’t have a spare room to self-quarantine and their neighbours are also at risk since different families are sharing one toilet and tap. 

Despite all the challenges that people living in townships are met with, it’s very important that everyone adheres to the rules of the lockdown as per the President’s orders because this pandemic isn’t just a government issue. We, as South Africans, also have a role to play in order to flatten the curve! 

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#Coronavirus #Covid19 #Lockdown #Alexandra

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