Public transport now allowed from 5am to 7pm, says Fikile Mbalula

All road-based public transport services are now permitted to operate from 5am to 7pm, Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced as part of relaxed Level 4 lockdown conditions on Friday. There will be a grace period of one hour in the afternoon to complete trips and drop off passengers. This includes minibus taxis, buses, metered taxis, charter and shuttle services.

Until now, under Level 5, public transport vehicles were able to operate from 5am to 10am, and again from 4pm to 8pm. Under the new level 4 restrictions no public transport will be allowed on the road between 8pm and 5am. It is compulsory for all occupants of public transport vehicles to wear a face mask.

“Now it is law. We call on the public to ensure strict adherence to this requirement by obtaining their own face masks,” said Mbalula. “While government may provide limited assistance in ensuring availability of masks, the onus rests on each individual to ensure that they do no leave home without a mask”.

Loading capacity for minibus taxis remains at 70% of licensed passengers, with social distancing and other mitigating measures remaining in place. Loading capacity for metered taxis and e-hailing services remains at 50%, Mbalula said. A five-seater vehicle is permitted to carry a maximum of two passengers and a driver.

Buses will be allowed to transport 70% passengers of their licensed capacity. Shuttle and chauffeur services will be subject to the same rules as other road-based transport. Both shuttle and chauffeur services will only be permitted for transporting people undertaking essential work and those economic sectors allowed to return to work under level 4, at a loading capacity of 50%.

Cross-border road movement remains prohibited. Only essential cargo will be allowed to move across land borders. However, there is a once-off special dispensation for persons who weren’t at their homes before the lockdown period and who could not travel between provinces, to return to their homes, during a window period that expires on May 7 2020

Long distance bus and taxi operators are allowed long distance travel during this window period. Full compliance with the 70% passenger capacity, wearing of masks, and sanitisation of vehicles is a mandatory requirement, he said. Mbalula also said repairs to vehicles utilised for emergency and essential services is permitted.

Drivers’ licence testing centres and vehicle testing centres will gradually re-open for essential service workers to renew their drivers’ and vehicle licenses.

He didn’t say under what conditions car sales would be allowed.

Earlier this week, Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel said gradual opening of car sales will be set out in directions that will be published shortly.

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