The N1 between Limpopo and Gauteng on Monday had more vehicles than seen since the lockdown started, as South Africans used the window period to make their way back to the country’s economic hub.
News24 visited the Carousel Toll Plaza, which links Gauteng and Limpopo, to observe and speak to travellers who are making use a one-time opportunity – between 1-7 May – to move between provinces.
Travellers have used this opportunity granted by the government to either get home, or get back to their place of work as lockdown entered Level 4.
Law enforcement officers conducted large roadblocks on either side of the toll gate to carry out searches, check for compliance of the lockdown regulations and find out where travellers were headeding.
Officers at the roadblock said it’s the busiest they had seen the N1 since the lockdown started on 27 March.
Officials from the Department of Health were also at the roadblock, doing screening and capturing details. If any traveller presented symptoms for Covid-19, a test would be conducted on the spot, a nurse told News24.
Munei Ratshibvumo, who travelled to Thohoyandou just before the lockdown kicked in, said he was thrilled to get back to Johannesburg to start working again.
Ratshibvumo, who works for a consulting engineering firm, said the lockdown had its challenges and that his family had taken a lot of financial strain.
“At least we can finally be productive, we can work and make an income.”
He added that he was worried about returning to Gauteng because of the high number of confirmed cases of the virus, but that he had no other choice.
Andrew Mathabata, who works in the gas industry, said he was stuck in Limpopo for the lockdown and was looking forward to returning to Johannesburg so he could start working again.
“Business has been very slow, non-existent actually, so we are hoping now we will be able to pick up on sales,” he said.
Several other travellers, who did not want to be named, said they were grateful for the opportunity to travel between provinces, as most of them needed to return to work.
Two people working in the transport business, who have been operating throughout the lockdown, told News24 that the roads had been very quiet until now.
“It’s picking up again bigtime,” one of them said.
While Pretoria was not its usual hive of activity, it was clear that there were many more vehicles on the road and more movement in the CBD.
However, there was still little movement at the Gautrain that started limited operations on Monday. Public buses were also not in out full force.
As of 3 April the country had 6 783 cases of the virus and 131 recorded deaths.