The taxi industry has weighed on government’s plan to introduce Covid-19 vaccine mandates, with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) saying they would support barring unvaccinated individuals from accessing public transport.
This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday, during a televised address to the nation, that government had established a task team that would carry out broad consultations on making vaccination mandatory for specific public facilities and areas.
With the low uptake of vaccines in South Africa, Santaco’s spokesperson in Gauteng, Midday Mali, said on Wednesday mandatory that inoculations were not only critical in saving lives but would also assist to save livelihoods and kickstart the economy.
“We support the pronouncement of the president, we won’t oppose it because the government is resourced and well informed in terms of how to avoid more chaos in the country. So, therefore we support that,” Mali said in an interview with eNCA.
Mali said the taxi industry had suffered tremendously from the different lockdown levels in the last 18 months. He said they believe making vaccines mandatory would go a long way in lifting the national State of Disaster.
“When we go into these lockdown levels, they really affect us as an industry. We don’t operate freely and go into other provinces as we would want to… We don’t get any support from the government in terms of financial assistance or subsidies.”
Mali urged the task team on mandatory vaccination to consult widely with taxi operators and associations before tabling its report to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccination, chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza.
“The team needs to be in touch with all the stakeholders so that we are on board as well and understand how mandatory vaccination is going to work. We also want to see our commuters being safe from this pandemic,” he said.
At the same time, NTA spokesperson Theo Malele said they supported mandatory vaccinations because they believed government’s decision-making on how to respond to the pandemic was informed by science.
“Wisdom demands that we must support the orthodox devise of the debate, while respecting the views of the unorthodox views as a caution for checks and balances,” Malele told Jacaranda FM.
He said the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the taxi industry and society, in general, required extraordinary measures to contain the spread of the virus.
“While respecting the choices of our members and associates for and against vaccinations, we call upon our structures, members and staff to support the government’s call for the Covid-19 vaccination to be mandatory and we plead with all in our organisation to vaccinate without delay,” he said.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe