Scholar drivers in the Mitchells Plain region have vowed to not transport learners until they receive aid from the state. This comes after schools in the province were instructed to open their doors and accept students despite Covid-19 not having reached its peak yet.
Member of the Mitchells Plain Scholar Drivers Association, Denver Vanaarde questioned when the government will come to their rescue.
“We have been at home for 75 days and our plight is that the government has failed to recognize us as drivers. We don’t have monies to purchase PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] and sanitizers. How can we assure parents that we can protect their children if we can’t afford to sanitize our vehicles. We are requesting that government come on board and provide us with relief because we see ourselves as an essential service.”
A retired member of the False Bay scholar drivers association, Ilham Adams claimed it’s impossible to ensure the standards the state requires with the little monies that is earned.
“The government must remove the year model compliancy and in this way scholar drivers can obtain a permit, because that has become the only thing holding scholar drivers back. We are expected to have a vehicle above a 2008 year model but our income will not sustain that,” stated Adams.
Adams continued and said the association wished they did not have to duck and dive from law officials while ferrying children to and from school but that they did not have a choice but cover their own backs.
“We are the poorest of the poor and we are servicing the poorest of the poor, It’s not that we don’t want to do the right thing but we feel that government is not assisting us as they do with the broader taxi associations” said Adams.
A member of the Mitchells Plain Scholar Association, Ashley Arendse said the biggest worry is the safety of the children that the association transports.
“How can we send children back to school if this pandemic has not reached its peak yet. Is the government looking to kill us off, not only as a nation, but as mankind. It is unreasonable to send students back at this point in time and we cannot stand for this,” said a concerned Arendse.
A scholar driver of three years, Sharni Petersen said she is sure taxi drivers will not offer the same security to children as they do.
“We are providing an essential service because we pick scholars up and we drop them at the gates of the school and parents can rest assured that their precious cargo is safe in our hands and if it is a young child we will go the extra mile and lead them by the hand until they’re safely in the care of the teacher. It is unfortunate that we are not seen as essential and have been overlooked by the government,” exclaimed Petersen.