Maun Taxi drivers face bleak future.

Francinah Baaitse Mmana
GIVING ADVICE: Leipego

Thousands of taxi operators in Maun and the North West District have been thrown out of business following government’s decision to ban their operations during the current lockdown, which was effected to fight the corona virus pandemic.

Just one week into the lockdown some of the taxi men are complaining of the looming death by hunger as their income has dried up immediately

“It is hard. I am solely dependent on the daily cash I got from the taxi. I made at least P150 a day and with that I bought food for my children daily. The savings went into house rent and now everything looks so bleak. There is no more food in the house.”

Mogata Duma, 52 added that the decision to stop taxis from operating came as a shock and at a very short notice to them because all along the government had said public transporters will not be affected by the lock down.

Five seater taxis are prohibited by law to operate during the current lockdown and only 18 minibuses (Combis) have been licensed to operate in the whole of Maun, North West District Commissioner, Keolopile Leipego has confirmed.

Generally Maun is serviced by the small taxis, but Leipego said they could not give them permits because they were only allowed to carry two passengers at a time and that could not make business sense.

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He add that the licensed minibuses therefore included those which were not necessarily in the taxi rank. These include those that were used to transport school children and other combis in the village.”

Speaking in an interview with Okavango Voice this week, Leipego said the 16- seater minibuses are only allowed to carry seven passengers at a time. “Permits are issued by DRTS (Department of Road Transport and Safety), so you maybe aware that the minister responsible for that department has announced new regulations. Taxis are not allowed to operate at this time.”

Leipego further added that the 18 minibuses are sufficient to carry those in the private sector because ideally the general public is on lockdown and the government employees have prearranged transport.

“When the law is made, it is to regulate every citizen and everyone has to abide by it. This was done in the best interest of the nation. It is to avoid unnecessary spread of COVID-19 and deaths,” explained Leipego.

However not everyone has been able to catch a ride from the few transporters Those employed in the private sector especially shops are forced to walk long distances to and from work on daily basis.

“It is hard for us. I walk everyday to and from Disana to new mall, a distance of approximately 10 kilometres to and fro. Hitchhiking does not help because people are afraid to pick strangers who may end up giving them corona virus,” explained an employee at Choppies stores at new mall.

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The woman who preferred anonymity stated that, “For fear of losing my job, I have to walk to get here. I have children and an extended family to feed.”

“When the law is made, it is to regulate every citizen and everyone has to abide by it. This was done in the best interest of the nation. It is to avoid unnecessary spread of COVID-19 and deaths,” explained Leipego.

However not everyone has been able to catch a ride from the few transporters.Those employed in the private sector especially shops are forced to walk long distances to and from work on daily basis.

“It is hard for us. I walk everyday to and from Disana to new mall, a distance of approximatly 10 kilometres to and fro. Hitchhiking does not help because people are afraid to pick strangers who may end up giving them corona virus,” explained an employee at Choppies stores at new mall.

The woman who preferred anonymity stated that, “For fear of losing my job, I have to walk to get here. I have children and an extended family to feed.”

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