Loss of lives has made taxi owners consider taking liability insurance cover

Sibonelo Mkhwanazi

Sibonelo Mkhwanazi

Minibus taxis are one of the cheapest forms of transport in South Africa, but commuters often take their lives into their own hands when getting into them because they are also considered one of the most dangerous.

This could soon be changing though with the introduction of driver and passenger insurance.

The loss of lives through rival taxi operator factions and accidents has forced concerned taxi owners to consider taking up liability insurance cover for both their drivers and passengers.

"The driver must be legally responsible for causing an accident and personal accident insurance covers the passenger's safety while in a taxi. The family of a deceased person is then in a position to claim for death benefits," said Sobhuza Nonyane, chairman of Isidingo Insurance.

"In 2000 the Gauteng Transport Department issued a requisition with public and private stakeholders to submit comments and recommendations pertaining to a bill, which was going to govern or regulate public passenger transport in the taxi industry. In that bill, we were supposed to come up with an insurance package for commuters and that is how Isidingo started offering services to the taxi industry," said Nonyane.

"[Offering liability and personal accident insurance] fits in very well with the needs of the taxi industry, particularly in this phase of the recapitalisation process and it coincides with the stipulations of the Gauteng Public Passenger Road Transport Act. The act stipulates that taxi operators must have passenger insurance to qualify for operating licences," said Eric Motshoane, chairman of the Greater Johannesburg Taxi Council.

According to Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, 98percent of taxi operators had applied for the new operating licences countrywide by September.

Alfred Nhlapo, spokesman for the Gauteng Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works, said passenger liability insurance was one of the department's top priorities.

Operators display stickers on their vehicles showing that they have passenger liability cover with respective underwriters.