• Open letter from the Automobile Association (AA) to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel

    Re: Opening of repair workshops for emergency vehicle repairs and emergency tyre fitment for private citizens during Level 4 lockdown

    Dear Minister Patel,

    I am writing this to you on behalf of Automobile Association (AA) members, as well as all other motorists in the country affected by the nationwide lockdown.

    The AA supports government’s efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and the restrictions imposed on movement under Level 4 in the interests of protecting the health of the citizens of South Africa. We have, for instance, made a conscious decision to remain working from home, despite the fact that we are legally entitled to reopen our offices. Our on-the-road patrol teams also strictly adhere to all government regulations when operational and when dealing with clients.

    Our understanding of the current restrictions is that emergency repairs to vehicles may only be performed on vehicles of Essential Service Providers (ESPs), and that these repairs may only be conducted in certain circumstances.

    Our concern is that these regulations don’t take into account other measures announced by government which allow for a phased return to work of some workers – who are not ESPs – and who rely on private transport to commute to and from work.

    These workers either do not have access to public transport, or the public transport does not service their needs adequately, and are therefore dependent on their own vehicles to remain mobile. In this situation, these workers will also need their vehicles to be repaired if necessary. Within the current restrictions, this cannot happen.

    We have confidence that repair outlets are also adhering to the guidelines and that the services they render will be done in strict accordance with the rules of curbing the spread of coronavirus.

    We believe that given the easing of restrictions to Level 4, there is an immediate and urgent need for many to access these services, and for them to ensure their vehicles are well maintained and repaired if necessary. This is not only a matter of employment for the thousands of workers in this sector, but also includes a critical road safety imperative.

    We therefore appeal to you to consider amending the regulations to allow for repair work to be performed for all motorists who require it, not only ESPs. This, we believe, is an equitable solution to a growing problem and will ensure everyone who is able to use private vehicles can ensure these vehicles are roadworthy and operational at all times.

    Regards

    Willem Groenewald

    CEO

    Automobile Association of South Africa