Wonderful idea collides with reality of taxi industry

"In about two weeks time, hey in about two weeks, my friend, your car will finally be ready," said big Giovanni in a grave manner that might have landed him a cameo in one of The Godfather movies.

"In about two weeks time, hey in about two weeks, my friend, your car will finally be ready," said big Giovanni in a grave manner that might have landed him a cameo in one of The Godfather movies.

His manner of speech aside, though, Giovanni gave me some of the sweetest news I have heard this year, and I can't wait to have my baby back.

Not that she's one of those sexy things that make many nubile things go wild at the mere sight thereof.

My automobile, to use an archaic term, is in fact as old as our fledgling democracy.

It was in an atrocious condition the day I took it in for intensive repair: dents all over, a falling bumper, faulty gearbox, rotten exhaust pipe, no handbrake, packed-up radiator, massive oil leaks and numerous other things that could fill up this whole space.

And did I mention that all but the driver's door can't be opened from the outside?

Well it doesn't matter. To some of us in Jozi, a car is a man's best friend, especially if it can reliably take you from point A to B.

God, to say I have had a terrible time with taxis over the past months would be to outrageously understate things.

The taxi industry, to paraphrase my friend, John Matshikiza at the Mail & Guardian, is a violent and corruption-infested, bloody dirty and Mafia-run industry that shames even the oldest industry on earth, I reckon.

And the government classifies it as public transport.

Just last Friday, Gauteng MEC for transport Ignatius Jacobs, he who is probably escorted to and from work in a cavalcade of flashy, armoured vehicles, was urging motorists to dispense with the comfort and reliability of their cars and use public transport on the province's wonderfully thought-up Car-Free Day.

According to the MEC, many taxi drivers have since last year's disastrous Car-Free Day, gone through a people-skills training programme and are now more courteous.

Yeah, right. I wonder which planet the honourable MEC inhabits; it definitely is not the one inhabited by millions of respectable men and women who daily have to swallow their dignity as some barbarous yahoos play God with their lives, and wantonly insult and humiliate them just for good measure.

Would Jacobs appreciate the pain of the elderly gentlemen I saw at the Bree Street taxi rank the other day, who, as he was struggling to load a huge sack of what appeared to be wares he was probably going to sell at the market, was rudely told by the driver that his taxi did not carry rubbish and that he had better wait for one that did?

Or the humiliation of the woman who was violently thrown out of the taxi - with tears streaming down her cheeks - because she did not have the extra 50c that would have made up the full fare? Despite somebody having offered to pay for her?

And these are just some of the milder cases, Mr MEC. Many people have experienced worse. Just don't tell them about courteous taxi drivers and other such rare species, sir.

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