Botswana: Mini-Bus Operators Decry Social Distancing

Jwaneng — Click to see more pictures

Jwaneng deputy district commissioner, Mr Lesang Kgomoetsile, has pleaded with mini-bus operators plying Sese-Jwaneng route to focus on volunteerism rather than making profit during this trying time of COVID-19 pandemic.

He said this when addressing operators on Thursday evening when they threatened to down tools, complaining that social distancing requirement was affecting their businesses because they were forced to carry few passengers per journey.

They reasoned that they only made enough for fuel as per the social distancing arrangement. They also indicated that the matter was even made worse by the fact that some of them were employees and had no powers to make decisions to volunteer because employers expected them to bring profit at the end of a working day.

However, Mr Kgomoetsile indicated that their complaints were genuine, but informed them that the entire world was in a crisis, hence implementation of social distancing requirement

"We are well aware of your situation, but at the moment, our priority should be to save lives rather than making profit. It is better to make losses now and make profit out of these people when the situation normalises, rather than risk their lives and have no customers tomorrow," he said.

Head of the department of road transport and safety. Mr Ontlametse Tiroyakgosi, assured operators that the department would formally write to combi owners about the situation.

He said since the coronavirus outbreak, they had been in contact with the combi drivers to see how they could reduce the risk of transmission.

He said from the onset, the drivers had been complaining that fuel would be their main challenge, especially that their route was not busy during the day.

One of the drivers, Mr Moagi Mmusi dismissed allegations that they were on strike, saying they only halted their services in order to have time to air their views to the authorities.

He also said that they were aware of the need to volunteer their services in this time of crisis, but said their willingness to assist was hampered by lack of money to fuel.

Mr Mmusi said that they wished that a special arrangement with filling station owners could be made to subsidise them.

The operators resolved that they would heed advice, though they indicated that they were not sure how long they could continue do so. They advised passengers to reach the bus rank early because combis would be forced to drive at a slower speed to conserve fuel.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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