Editorial credit: Rich T Photo / Shutterstock.com
For millions of South Africans without a car, mini-bus taxis are the only form of transport that is affordable to them.
In actual fact, despite the annoyances many drivers feel when driving behind these taxis, they provide an important economic benefit to the country – by helping workers and employees get to their places of business on time, day-in and day-out. They often do this through ‘unorthodox’ driving techniques, such as using emergency lanes to skirt traffic – one could argue that getting people to their jobs on time counts as an emergency.
Inspired by this, and beset by increased congestion on Johannesburg’s roads, officials in the Gauteng Legislator have devised a plan that should soon be easing our streets of unnecessary traffic.
“People arriving late to work every day has an economic cost,” Paul Ringani, a legislator in Gauteng said. “We simply can’t afford any hindrances to getting our economy back on track. Especially now with Moody’s [the ratings agency] breathing down our necks. It’s not just uncomfortable, but also creepy. That’s why we need a solid plan of action.”
The proposal is that all drivers who take less than four other people with them to work will be required to use a mini-bus taxi as transport. Officials are already in discussions with the taxi associations to implement the plan.
“Yes, we have been talking to the City,” ‘Oupa’ Dumasane, a taxi owner, has said. “The way they are suggesting is a card system. Everyone gets a card with credits on them, and you simply slot it into a reader when you board one of our taxis. We stop everywhere, so we can easily pick people up wherever they live.”
The system, which will see millions of JHB residents leaving their cars for after-hours and weekend use, will be strictly enforced.
“Harsh fines will be administered to anyone driving alone or with less than the required number of passengers,” Colonel Johannes Karabi, a high-ranking officer at the JMPD, said. “We won’t take this lightly. Everyone, figuratively and literally, must come aboard with this plan.”
When asked as to what fines would be administered, he said, “Ja, fine, we will take your car. You will only get it back after paying an as-yet to be determined amount, and then only after seven working days. If you are asked to pay a larger amount to get it back sooner, we advise you report a case of corruption to whoever is running IPID that week. We don’t want even our own officers riding roughshod over the law.”
The proposed law will be going to the legislature later this month. It is expected to pass, as the taxi associations have all signed up for it, and a card system tender has been put out to everyone, but Busasa.
There is also currently a tender for production companies to make YouTube videos to teach regular drivers the hand signals commonly used to signal taxis which route they want to go.
Several business executives have already been approached to appear in the videos, in their three-piece bespoke suits, to show suburbanites that this new method of public transport is for everyone.
“I’ve been asked to appear in one of the three proposed videos,” said Steven Allen, CEO of BMI (Bull Manure Industries). “I know exactly the outfit I’m going to wear for it, my Armani silver pin-striped suit. It’ll be my pleasure standing on a street corner doing the ‘going to Sandton’ hand signal. In preparation for the role, I’ve already taken three rides in mini-bus taxis and am starting to get fluent in vernacular. It’s great, because you get to hear all the juicy gossip about so-and-so’s neighbour. This will be a great boon for the economy, and I think Joburgers will embrace it.”
If the law passes, it’s expected that by July we will all be taxiing our way through the bustling economic hub of the country.
UPDATE: Renowned rock group Taxi Violence has been commissioned to do a theme song for the YouTube videos.