New lease of life for taxis

The Mercury - - NEWS - Khumbuzile Mbuqe

AN IN­CEN­TIVE pro­gramme to get the city’s taxi in­dus­try to shake off its bad im­age was launched yes­ter­day.

The launch of the pro­gramme “uMoja Cruise”, at the Dur­ban Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, in­cluded the per­for­mance of a musical that charted the his­tory of the taxi in­dus­try and demon­strated how the in­dus­try could ben­e­fit from be­ing part of the pro­gramme.

The pro­gramme, which is be­ing run by eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity with as­sis­tance from GO! Dur­ban and taxi in­dus­try lead­er­ship, aims to sup­port mini-bus taxi op­er­a­tors and as­so­ci­a­tions to im­prove their busi­ness op­er­a­tions and ser­vices to the city’s com­muters.

Launch

The launch was planned to co­in­cide with the penul­ti­mate day of Na­tional Trans­port Month.

Speak­ing to The Mer­cury, eThek­wini Mayor Zandile Gumede said the project was aimed at min­imis­ing the num­ber of taxi crashes in the province and to pro­mote good driv­ing.

She said taxi own­ers could vol­un­tar­ily join the pro­gramme.

“This pro­gramme will as­sist taxi own­ers to re­duce road ac­ci­dents, as well as to im­prove their in­dus­try es­pe­cially if their taxis are clean and they value their cus­tomers. The in­dus­try will grow and will cease to be seen as an un­ruly, dis­or­gan­ised in­dus­try.

“Look­ing at the at­ten­dance we had to­day, all the re­gions within eThek­wini, West, North, South Cen­tral, were present, mean­ing they are also keen for this pro­gramme to be rolled out.”

She said the city wanted to work with the taxi in­dus­try.

“Is­su­ing fines or tick­ets should be the last op­tion, what’s im­por­tant is that they know and un­der­stand what the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ex­pects of them, be­cause there’s a lot that they do purely be­cause they’re not clear on the by-laws and leg­is­la­tions.”

Gumede ex­plained that com­muters could use com­mu­nity halls and li­braries, which now have free wifi, to log into the uMoja Cruise sys­tem and vote, com­ment and nom­i­nate the best driver or mini-bus taxi.

Taxi own­ers will then ac­cu­mu­late or lose points on the sys­tem ac­cord­ing to the rat­ing by com­muters and can use ac­cu­mu­lated points to re­ceive dis­counts at se­lected ser­vice providers.

How­ever the DA’s Zwakele Mncwango said the pro­gramme was a waste of ratepay­ers’ money.

“What the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is fail­ing to do is to ad­dress the prob­lems faced by the taxi in­dus­try and pass­ing by-laws that are ap­pli­ca­ble and suit­able for them.

“For ex­am­ple a taxi trans­port­ing com­muters from the mar­ket to Ma­hatma Gandhi (Point) Road, there is no of­fi­cial taxi stop where a taxi can pick-up or drop off com­muters.

“Why doesn’t the mu­nic­i­pal­ity look into this so that taxis can have le­git­i­mate points to pick up and drop off com­muters?”

PIC­TURE: SIBONELO NG­COBO/ANA

Ac­tors per­form in a musical de­pict­ing all the neg­a­tive fea­tures of the taxi in­dus­try that the city wants to change at the launch of an iIn­cen­tive pro­gramme for the city’s minibus taxi in­dus­try at the Dur­ban Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

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