Health concerns raised over 100% loading capacity

Health concerns raised over 100% loading capacity

Head of Public Health at UKZN, Professor Saloshnie Pillay says sufficient ventilation in taxis is a major concern as we edge closer towards the COVID-19 infection peak.

Taxis, taxi strike
Steve Bhengu

During his last address, the president announced that taxis may go ahead and operate at full capacity provided all commuters wear masks.

Yesterday, Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula announced that all public vehicles must have their windows open at 5cm and they must be fitted with window stoppers. 

Pillay questions this open window policy, "We do want increased ventilation in the taxis in the open window policy, however, with the window jammers, we are not quite sure where it will achieve the adequate ventilation required. That will have to be looked at much more closely."

She adds that the biggest concern is disease transmission at taxi ranks and inside the vehicles. "If you have a large number of patients in a confined space, with limited ventilation the risk for disease transmission is far greater." 

Pillay adds the bigger factor is that the 100% capacity and having people close to each other. 

"We do know that some passengers will not wear their masks and if you sitting in a confined space with 15 people, the risk of transmission is great." 

READ: Transport industry permitted to carry full capacity for local trips

It is a concern that is shared by Cosatu. 

They have made an urgent application to the National Economic Development and Labour Council in an attempt to put the breaks on the new regulations.

The trade union's Sizwe Pamla says they met with the Transport Ministry over the matter and got a sense that the government is fearful of the taxi industry and what it's capable of.

The announcement, however, came not long after taxi operators went ahead anyway with full loads defying the government's order of a then 70% maximum loading regulation.

Pamla said they want the council to convene all social partners as soon as possible because these regulation issues where lives are at stake. They hope the council will give them a date soon. 

" If we allow the taxi industry to do what they want and then we have a spike of infections because of the public transport system, we will be forced to revert back to level 4 or 5,." 

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