Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has issued a series of updates to the regulations in action during the national lockdown to facilitate better access to transport to vulnerable persons in response to citizens having difficulty finding transport to collect social grants.
According to government gazette 43183 (30Mar2020), “Busses and taxis shall be permitted to operate from 05h00 to 20h00 in order to cater the transport needs of South Africans most vulnerable which is effective from 30 March 2020 until 03 April 2020.”
A further amendment extends the period of validity for driver’s and vehicles for the period of the lockdown, and further 30 days grace period from the date of the end of the lockdown period. Motor Trade number licenses are extended a grace period of 6 months from the date of the end of the lockdown period. Licensing and vehicle test centres will remain closed for the lockdown.
The designation of essential workers have also been extended to include:
- Tollgate operators
- Road Emergency operators
- Employees responsible for safe operation of the roads
- Rail logistics operators
Government gazette 43186 (30Mar2020) grants a grace period to taxis to proceed to and from the pick-up points an hour before the designated times, without loading passengers, as set out in the Disaster Management act. Taxis are permitted to collect and return essential workers from 05h00 to 10h00 and 16h00 to 22h00. The amendment continues to say that private institutions or companies may plan transport for their essential workers (as listed in Annexure B of the Disaster Management act) to be in line with operating shifts and work time schedules. These operating shifts or work schedules must be stamped and signed by the responsible person.
This amendment also increases the permitted load capacity of minibus taxis to 70 % where no masks are required, meaning a taxi with a licensed capacity of 10 persons may carry 7, a capacity of 15 may carry 10 and a capacity of 22 may carry 15. In all cases the allowed number of persons in the vehicle includes the driver. A vehicle licensed for 4 persons is still limited to a 50 % permitted load capacity, meaning only 2 persons may be in the vehicle including the driver. However, during the lockdown period a minibus taxi will be permitted to carry a full load as licensed provided all persons in the vehicle is wearing either a surgical or N95 mask.
Government Gazette 43189 (30Mar2020) extends the ban on all local and international flights irrespective of the risk status of the country of origin except where granted specific permission by the Minister of Transport to evacuate South African citizens in foreign countries. Repatriation is allowed only where the foreign countries charter an aircraft to South Africa without passengers but with a crew – whom will not be allowed to disembark the plane in South Africa. South African citizens who wish to return to the country during this time will be permitted to do so provided:
- They have a fully paid return flight ticket, and
- They will submit to a mandatory quarantine period of up to 21 days.
The following technical flights are allowed:
- Medical Evacuation flights – these flights should not carry passengers except patients and crew who, upon disembarking, will be subject to the mandatory quarantine laws as are applicable.
- Aircraft in a state of emergency
- Technical landings for refuelling – these flights are allowed provided no passengers are allowed to disembark the plane.
- Aircraft operations related to humanitarian aid, relief flights and other safety related operations.
The following airports must have operation staff on standby to receive aircraft in distress:
- Port Elizabeth
- Bram Fisher
- Kruger Mpumalanga
Flight Cargo crew will be permitted to disembark on the condition that they will be subject to quarantine laws as applicable.