A Day In The Life of a Taxi Operator during Lockdown

Most taxis are not operating yet albeit for those that do operate there’s apparently an oversupply of operators versus the available commuters to ferry.
According to one taxi driver who agreed to speak under anonymity, “Akunamehluko”, instead things have gotten worse”. In reality they can operate under Lockdown and with increased capacity to 70 % compared to 100 % instead of the previous 50 %.
They are earning less now and bi-weekly than weekly prior to the state’s disaster management measures. There are less takings daily from fewer customers. “Now I must take four trips to town just R200 from customers whereas before within two trips I would take R360 which is a sum of R180 per full load.
In addition to that, ancillary running costs remain. In this case, fixing a hooter as I found him busy doing. At that pressing moment I also witnessed him having to negotiate to be allowed to defer payment of a third of the full amount required because if he paid all of it on request, he would have been left with no cash to refill petrol for his next operational shift. The mechanic after being resentful to take the 2/3 of his asking price relented, with an understanding though that the driver will be returning after his late shift or the next day to settle the balance, and failing which an undertaking also from the driver “uma ngingakukhokheli ngizobe ngiyazilimaza nami, ngingasenakukwazi ukuphinde ngize futhi ngizofuna ungisize futhi nangokunye”.
Asking about preventative measures for their safety and that of passengers except for once when the kombis were sprayed with the sanitizer, he mentioned that, “we were given neither masks, hand gloves nor sanitizers. The only hand sanitizer he has and uses he bought himself from his already dwindled income.
For this anonymous taxi driver and others like him in a similar situation; he works despite reduced earnings to help put “bread” on the table rather than risk living under “no work no pay” principle nor a chance of UIF relief since apparently “akunamuntu ofaka lapho”- there’s no employer/employee who contributes towards the Fund. Furthermore, they are apparently still taking six passengers per trip which is below 70 % because of there being less commuters to ferry between themselves as taxi operators.

Dumi Mkhabela Soweto Sunrise News

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