COVID-19 Pushing Combis To A Halt

Long wait: Combi drivers waiting for customers at Gaborone station. PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Long wait: Combi drivers waiting for customers at Gaborone station. PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit various sectors of the economy, with some in the process of recovery, while others are still knee-deep. At a time when public transport operators were eyeing a recovery, the worst happened.

Recent limitations on inter-zonal travel, alcohol ban, restriction on gatherings and the temporary closure of schools, has operators in limbo. President of the newly formed Yellow Light Taxi Services, Kebaeletse Koobokile said the challenges they face vary as some operators do not own the vehicles. He said such operators are hard hit as they share the daily takings with the vehicle owner, amid a depressed business environment due to COVID-19.

“As you know our commodity is our cars and it is very disheartening that petrol prices went up and the car maintenance prices went up as well which means we are now fighting a losing war,” Koobokile said. With learners and teachers at home, while some employees are working remotely, revenue from public transport has been eroded. Olebogeng Kemelo, a combi driver who plies the Tlokweng route, said it has been tough.

“We have been badly affected by the pandemic more especially that schools are closed. We are struggling because the bulk of customers who use our route are students from the various schools located along the route,” he said. Kemelo said their trips are down to two at the moment, whereas it could have been different had it not been for the pandemic restrictions.

“As operators of this route we have come up with a solution that we hope can alleviate the situation although not all of us have come to an agreement. Since we realized that the number of customers is thin, we have resolved to shift so that in the long run, we can all benefit,” Kemelo said.

He added out of the 80 operators from the route around seven are against the proposal. Ramogotsi Moses, a combi marshal said although the operators have been negatively affected it is different in their case as they still make the same amount of money they made before the pandemic hit as they are paid according to the number of combis present at the rank.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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