Taxi drivers claim ignorance
30 March 2020 | Disasters
Although taxis are allowed to operate during the lockdown, some drivers in Windhoek claim ignorance of rules governing hygiene, social distancing and how many passengers they may carry.
On Saturday, four taxi drivers told Namibian Sun that they were aware of the coronavirus pandemic, but could not afford protection.
'If I don't drive, I cannot eat,' said a driver in Khomasdal who called himself Feto.
A second driver, Nelo Paulus, said he didn't know where to buy hand sanitiser or masks and asked the government to supply these materials.
'It's really not our fault, people still need taxis to go and do their jobs. Not everyone has a car. Look at the security guards. These guys need us,' Paulus said.
Another taxi driver, Ethan Beukes, said he was also taking chances with loading passengers and tried to avoid police checkpoints.
'They are strict at the checkpoints as they will force you to offload passengers, but they are not so strict in certain neighbourhoods,” said Beukes.
Beukes added that he doesn't have gloves, masks or hand sanitiser. 'These things are costly and one doesn't even know where to get them,' he said.
Milla Mathias, the fourth driver, said he was stopped at a checkpoint on Monte Cristo Road late on Saturday and had to offload his passengers as they didn't have the necessary papers allowing them to travel.
'I'm sure things will intensify as the lockdown continues,' Matias said.
Pendapala Nakathingo of the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) says they are trying their best to protect the sector.
He urged drivers to adhere to emergency regulations, such as the maximum number of people allowed per car.
'There should be two passengers in the backseat of a taxi and one in front,' he explained.
Taxis are allowed to transport essential service workers until 18:00 every day, he said.
The City of Windhoek has suspended the municipal bus service until 16 April or until further notice.
Regular bus user Maria Uises, a domestic worker who travels each day from 7de Laan to Klein Windhoek, says her employers have informed her to stay home during the lockdown, so the bus service suspension doesn't affect her that much.
Uises is worried about her lost wages though, saying that she and her two children will eventually run out of food.