Bus operators in Swaziland (eSwatini) are defying coronavirus social distancing regulations and running vehicles at full capacity because they say they will go out of business otherwise. It comes as deaths from the virus continue to surge.
Buses, known locally as kombis, are only allowed to run at 80 percent capacity. They have also faced restrictions on the number of hours the can operate.
Swaziland Local Transport Association (SLTA) made the announcement on Sunday (16 August 2020). The decision was taken by kombi operators across Swaziland.
SLTA Chairperson Mandla Dlamini told local media, 'Banks have claimed that they will repossess our vehicles this coming September because we are failing to settle our debts.'
He said the only way they could pay was to carry passengers at full capacity. They would continue to sanitise vehicles and make sure passengers had their hands sanitised before boarding.
The Swazi Government has not helped the transport operators financially since the kingdom was placed in partial lockdown to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency in March.
A police spokesperson said police would continue enforcing the regulation.
Coronavirus continues to spread throughout Swaziland. As of 17 August there had been 3,894 cases confirmed by the Ministry of Health and 73 deaths. At the beginning of the month there had been 43 deaths.
Meanwhile, the traditional Umhlanga Reed Dance at which tens of thousands of women dance bare-breasted in front of absolute monarch King Mswati III has been cancelled. People travel from across Swaziland to attend. It was due to begin on 25 August and this is the first time in history the ceremony has been cancelled.