If you are into extreme sport or extreme anything, then you need to add this item to your bucket list:

Take a 30-minute drive as a passenger in a minibus taxi in peak hour traffic in Johannesburg, South Africa.

You are guaranteed a heart-stopping adrenaline rush like nothing never before!

These 16 and 22 seater minibuses, largely manufactured by Toyota are the bane of the road users in this country.

They stop when and where they like to load or offload passengers, force their way into the front of vehicle queues, swerve in front of oncoming traffic, jump traffic lights, overloading and of course, my favourite; when turning they brake, turn and then indicate – I always thought it was the other way around.

Add the occasional shoot-out at public taxi ranks between opposing Taxi Associations and you have to wonder how they still exist?

You have not experienced the real fear on South African roads unless you have either been in heavy traffic along with numerous taxis or have actually been a passenger in one.

I have done both and I am convinced that these wheeled maniacs contribute significantly to road rage.

They appear to have little regard for the safety of their passengers or other road users. Their aggressive and often reckless driving styles lead many South Africans to believe that they are responsible for almost all the road deaths.

And law enforcement is unable, or unwilling to do anything concrete about it.

Here are several videos which you might find interesting.

What I didn’t know about the Industry

Looking a bit deeper into this industry there are some interesting facts that I was not aware of and I can confidently assume the same of many South Africans, for example the Taxi industry accounts for around 10% of annual road accidents and of the average number of road deaths per day, 36, taxis are responsible for 3.

This extract from an article by the Arrive Alive Campaign highlights some of the realities of what is, in essence, an essential industry:

“The minibus taxi industry is today the most critical pillar of our public transport sector. Not only is it the most available mode of transport, it is also the most affordable to the public. The minibus taxi industry emerged in the wake of the apartheid government’s policy of economic deregulation, initiated in 1987. From the early 1980s onwards, taxi operators began using larger ‘kombi’ minibuses that could carry up to 15 passengers. Until formal deregulation in 1987, such taxis were illegal.

Yet they were popular among black commuters because, unlike other public transport options, they: 

  • ran late-night services; 
  • travelled to out-of-the-way places; 
  • picked up commuters from, and dropped them back at, their homes; 
  • charged reasonable fares;
  • made convenient stops on long distances; 
  • cut down time spent in long queues at bus and train stations.”

Facts about the Industry

♦   It moves 15 million people every day, most of them lower income Blacks.

♦   With an annual revenue estimated at $3.7 billion

♦   There are approximately 250 000 registered taxis

♦   The industry directly employs 600 000 people

♦   Taxis are the most popular mode of transport in urban areas for the majority of South Africa’s population.

♦   The South African taxi industry plays an important role in the economy considering that the majority of South Africans are       poor and dependent on public transport.

♦   The taxi industry consists of minibuses, dominating 90% of the market, and metered taxis active in the remaining 10% of           the market

♦   Public transport by taxis accounts for 65% of the transport total, 20% by bus and 15% by rail.

Accident statistics

Source: Arrive Alive

What do drivers earn?

According to Moneyweb:

………. payment methods vary from one association to another, some receive a fixed salary of anything between R800 – R1,000 per week.

Some are paid in accordance with the takings of the taxi – between 25%-30% of the takings per week.

Moneyweb reports that the average daily revenue for a taxi is between R1,000 – R2,500, before fuel costs.

The organisation, Corruption Watch reported in 2012 that taxi owners demanded R800 a day from each driver in his fleet, with any additional earnings retained by the driver.

The organisation said that the average urban taxi driver earns between R1,500 and R2,000 per month, which can go up to R6,000 a month if the driver is paid R200 a day, as some are.

These figures are probably higher in 2017.

Featured image: Accident between bus and minibus taxi. Photo by ER24

A video giving the story from the drivers perspective

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