South Africa

Road map to the future: A formalised minibus taxi industry?

What would a formalised minibus taxi industry look like? Well, Mbavhalelo Mabogo, founder and CEO of tech company Quickloc8, seemingly has the blue print.

The tech entrepreneur said the recent minibus taxi strike in Cape Town was a wake-up call, signifying the need for a formalised taxi industry.

Legislative framework needed to formalise taxi industry

Mabogo told The Citizen that all the structures required to formalise the taxi industry were already in place, adding that legislative framework is the missing piece of the puzzle.

“Despite numerous discussions and statements from current and former ministers, the formalisation process remains a topic of ongoing conversation,” he said.

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Western Cape good starting point for ‘blueprint taxi formalisation model’

According to Mabogo, the Western Cape could be a great starting point.

“The Western Cape government is well positioned to lead this implementation due to its current and ongoing engagements with the taxi industry, experiential insights, and resource profile,” he explained.

Mabogo said getting the process right would result in a blueprint taxi formalisation model which could easily be replicated throughout the country.

“To begin the formalisation process, it’s crucial to set up a licensing and regulatory department that facilitates a comprehensive procedure for taxi operators and drivers,” he said.

“This would involve conducting background checks, vehicle inspections, and ensuring compliance with safety standards, all culminating in the issuance of permits,” he explained.

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Driver training programmes

While proposing the introduction of formal driver training programmes, Mabogo encouraged leading minibus taxi suppliers to jump on board.

The plan?

“Upon a taxi owner’s acquisition of a taxi, they would receive a driver training voucher,” he said.

“This voucher could be redeemed at a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college for a comprehensive three-month driver training program,” Mabogo explained, adding that a three-month NQF certificate could be awarded upon completion.

Reflecting on the recent Cape Town taxi strike, Mabogo said “the absence of taxi industry suppliers was noticeable”.

“They stood by as detached observers, awaiting the strike’s conclusion so they could resume from profiting from the industry,” he added.

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Insurance and liability

Mabogo said the process was already in place as taxi owners are required to take out comprehensive insurance covers when purchasing their vehicles, ticking all the boxes:

  • Once-off annual liability cover;
  • Passenger cover; and
  • Short-term insurance for their vehicles.

Technology integration to track taxis

The tech innovator said the introduction of taxi monitoring tools to track minibus taxis would go a long way in helping minibus taxi owners and route offices to track taxi movements and driver behaviour.

  • Overseeing drivers.
  • Monitoring taxi movements.
  • Remotely controlling operations.
  • Accessing daily revenue reports a per-taxi basis.

“The ROADS system gives route offices a comprehensive overview of all taxis within their routes, allowing them to monitor route-adherence, driver evaluations, storage of member documents and insurance records,” he said.

Applauding recently developed apps, such as Blue Dot and Moja Cruise, Mabogo said these advancements “underscore the sector’s eagerness to leverage technology to boost competitiveness, enhance transparency and streamline driver rating and management”.

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Complaints and feedback in real time

Mabogo also proposed a streamlined system where commuters can report concerns in real time at their fingertips, using instant messaging or USSD platforms.

“Each taxi could be assigned a unique, prominently branded number (both internally and externally) for commuters to use when submitting real-time complaints and feedback,” he explained.

Regulatory body

Using the Western Cape as an example, Mabogo said the South African National Taxi Council  (Santaco) Western Cape’s Umanyano Travel Services could play a “pivotal role” as a designated oversight body  by enforcing regulations, mediating disputes and  ensuring compliance with industry standards.

“On a practical level, [designated oversight bodies] would also function as centralised command centres for real-time monitoring of taxi activities,” he said.

“This strategic approach serves as a means to seamlessly amalgamate and unify the diverse operations of the taxi industry.”

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Way forward for minibus taxi industry

As a way forward, Mabogo proposed a legislative framework to regulate the taxi industry.

“The national government needs to take the lead in kick-starting the process by clearly outlining and promoting the legislative framework to drive the taxi industry towards formalisation,” he said.

When asked if a formalised national taxi industry would be viable, Mabogo answered “absolutely”.

“Formalisation can work, but will require active participation of all key players,” he told The Citizen