100 minibus taxis to assist fight against COVID-19

18 May 2020 in Where We Govern

The statement below was written by Bonginkosi Madikizela Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works

Today we are proud to be launching the Red Dot service which we believe is the first in South Africa.

It is partnership between the Western Cape Government and the minibus taxi industry to deliver critical transport services as part of the fight against COVID-19.

The service is called Red Dot because of the sticker on the vehicles, making it easily identifiable for intended passengers.

Beginning today, these services will safely transport essential healthcare workers who have been left stranded due to limited public transport operating hours in the evenings.

Under the Alert Level 4 regulations of the National State of Disaster, public transport must stop operating at 19:00 and may only resume at 05:00 the next morning. This is problematic for many public health employees because their shifts end at 19:00. However, the Alert Level 4 regulations also allow essential service employees with the required permits to use chartered transport at times that suit their shifts and working hours. Red Dot Lite will provide a chartered transport service for those Department of Health employees who need to travel for work between 19:00 and 05:00.

From 1 June, the service will also transport citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are at high-risk of having been exposed to the virus to public isolation and quarantine centres which have been established across the Province.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 are required to go into quarantine for 14 days. People who are at high risk because they may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 are required to go into isolation for 14 days. Because many people are unable to quarantine or isolate themselves, the Department of Health has established public quarantine and isolation facilities across the Western Cape. Because there are high risks associated with transporting such people, special precautions are required. Red Dot will support the effective functioning of these facilities by providing safe transport for those who need it.

These centres are considered a vital part of the fight against COVID as they are specifically for people who are unable to enter isolation or quarantine in their own homes or at their own expense.

Based on Department of Health projections of the likely course of the pandemic, the fleet will initially comprise 100 minibuses, owned by Umanyano Travel Services. The vehicles will be placed where they can best serve the needs of Red Dot and Red Dot Lite users.

The transport provided will make use of a dedicated fleet of vehicles and will follow strict safety and hygiene protocols, including rigorous cleaning and sanitisation of vehicles after every trip, the use of masks and appropriate protective gear and a less than 50% capacity, or 7 passenger restriction.

As Government, we will carefully monitor the service with trackers and an intelligent transport system linked to the Department’s Transport Hub, as well as on-the-ground monitoring.

I want to thank SANTACO Western Cape for their cooperation, enthusiasm, and support for this initiative.  It is my sincere hope that this is the beginning of a new and successful chapter in the working relationship between Government and the minibus taxi industry.  An industry which transports millions of people every day and which is so crucial for our economy.

A new company has been established to deliver the service and it has been named Umanyano Travel Services which means “unity” in isiXhosa.  It is in this spirit of unity between government and the industry and between the members of SANTACO Western Cape – that we proudly launch this new service today.