THE owners of long distance minibus taxis In Walvis Bay have resorted to transporting goods instead of people as a new way to keep their businesses afloat.
The special dispensation under the State of Emergency that has the Local Authority Areas of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis under lockdown due to the ever increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases in the two main coastal towns in the Erongo Region has seen a significant drop in business for taxi owners.
Under the special dispensation people are only allowed to leave the Waswadis district unless they have a medical emergency or perform an essential or critical service. No permits are issued for normal travellers or people that need to attend a funeral of a loved one.
While the transportation of goods as newly formed courier services are not as profitable as transporting people, taxi owners are able to keep their businesses afloat.
A marshal at the long distance taxi rank in Kuisbemond said most of the minibus taxi drivers have special permits to travel outside the police checkpoints of the Waswadis district.
“What they do is bring food and other essential goods for families or individuals sent by their people form up North into Walvis Bay, Swakopmund or Arandis. Then they wait for some time so that people cans send stuff back to people in the North,” the marshal, who only introduced himself as Japhta, said.
According to Japhta the drivers remove the seats from the minibuses to make space for more cargo. More cargo means better profit.
He pointed out that drivers who do not have permits only drive up to the check points where other drivers take the busses further north and back again. Once back at the checkpoints the drivers from Walvis Bay or Swakopmund take over to bring the goods home to people stuck under lockdown.
Good rains since the end of last year meant that many farmers in the North had bumper crops this year which enables them to send food to the coast for family members that has fallen on hard times as a result of the continued lockdown of especially Walvis Bay.
“Sending the same items we transport with normal courier companies will cost people a lot of money. We ask maybe a quarter of the price people normally pay and everybody gets the help they need,” Japhta said.
He said people from Walvis Bay mostly send personal goods, sometimes fish, vehicle spares or some goods that can be bought cheaply at the coast that can again be sold in tuck shops up North.