Article by Lindiwe Karosa
The newest amendments to the National Disaster Management Act have opened more portals for movement across the country. Police have therefore become merciless to operators and drivers who have disregarded regulations and have been making arrests since the morning. Here are some of the amendments related to movement that South Africans will now be subjected to.
The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula announced relaxations on capacity controls within the taxi industry.
– Taxis will now operate from 5am – 10am , and from 4pm – 9pm.
– Taxis may be filled to capacity provided that all passengers are provided with masks.
This relaxation now means that the onus lies on the driver to ensure the best possible hygienic environment for passengers. Drivers must sanitize passengers and provide them with 3-ply surgical masks or N95 respiratory masks.
If the driver is unable to provide all the passengers with masks then social distancing must be implemented in the vehicle, and may therefore not fill his taxi to capacity. The minister urged passengers to not agree to get into a taxi that is not adhering to the above.
Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs (Cogta) listed a number of amendments that many find to be counterproductive to the purpose of the lockdown.
– Inter-provincial travel will be allowed for burials and funerals, including the transportation of the deceased and mourners. However, a permit must be obtained for such travel and the number of people allowed remains at 50.
– Guest houses, lodges and hotels may now operate to accommodate funeral attendees
This relaxation means that there will be an increase in movement that was previously deemed ‘unnecessary’ which experts say may result in greater spread of infection, thus working against the ultimate goal of flattening the curve.
Law enforcement at its peak
Officials at roadblocks have turned up the heat on the roads by arresting people who have no reason to be on the roads.
Law enforcement officials are checking for permits, capacity in the vehicle as well as hygiene practice particularly in taxis. With new loopholes for people to move around, police bear the brunt of ensuring that these new regulations are strictly adhered to.
South Africans have voiced mixed reactions to the news of eased Covid-19 regulations announced by several ministers. The current number of positive confirmed cases sits at 1 462.
Will these amendments assist or prolong the fight against this pandemic?