The Minibus Taxi... Is this a private or public transport?

2015-02-15 05:27

Public transport remains one of the most utilized form of transport in South Africa. It is quite obvious that not everybody can afford to own a car, and those who luckily do own one may not always afford to use them every day. Many a times we all do use public. So do I.

Options are vast... depending on your current geographical location, though. Other commuters use the gigantic monster snake aka the train, being it the ever busy Metrorail or the elite Gautrain, formerly dubbed Shilowa Express. I guess the Blue train for the selected few.

The commuters also have an option of using buses. There are plenty of different bus services, including the BRT's (Bus Rapid Transport) like Reya Vaya and MyCiti, just to mention a few.

Over and above all, the most highly contested transport business in the country is the taxi industry. This is the only transport business that is almost exclusively non-white. The only mode of transport that almost always exists in every corner of even the most remote of the land.

This mode of public transport, though, the minibus taxis,convenient as it may sound, remains the user's daily nightmare. It remains the most ungovernable, unaudited, unchecked, ill-regulated, and ill-legislated group of transport business ever. Whatever the requirements to own or drive one, it makes no difference.

The drivers of these minibus taxis are mostly psychotic and rude to the passengers. They show no sense of remorse or guilt every time they overspeed with a vehicle carrying so much lives. They jump the red traffic lights. They overtake as they wish, and at any lane, including overtaking on the pavements, walkways, and the left side of the gravel/ yellow lane.

Almost all minibus drivers are color-blind to the pedestrian lines, yellow lanes, barrier lines, and red-amber traffic lights. The maximum speed limits are treated as the minimum speed for them. The oncoming traffic scare them not. The traffic police fear them. The lives of commuters are of no value.

These guys care less about stopping anywhere anytime. They bother not to look in the mirrors when overtaking or on-ramping. They need no permission to make a U-turn if the taxi hasn't reached its capacity, whether the commuters are late or not. Their deafening sound systems can only be volumed down when they so wish.

During busy seasons, every form of short cuts are taken, regardless of how unsafe or bumpy the roads might be. If they feel like they don't wanna proceed with the journey any more or take a different route than previously planned, they simply just drop the commuters anywhere, anytime. It matters not.

Their language is none of the 11 official languages in the country. Swear words are their orders of the day. Their deafening hooters roar all day long. Road rage is their pre-planned daily mission. Anybody who responds gets verbally persecuted, or even evicted out of the vehicle.

You set your bum on their seats, your rights are limited. For whatever reason, if you may happen to really need to alight the vehicle before it gets full, you are made to pay full price. If half way to your destination, the drivers feels like he want to swop with another one, for any reason whatsoever, you have no say, regardless of how debilitated the other vehicle is.

It seems like it's a privilege, rather than a right to have a safe, non-emotions-provoking journey by a minibus taxi. The rights of our poor unsuspecting community are violated to the core, and it seems not to gonna get any better anytime soon. We all long ceased to respond to any of their ill treatment.

However, there are those few taxi drivers who still respect people and the law. Still though, for me, there is absolutely nothing public about this kind of public transport. I shudder!

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