Disorganised taxi industry must get its engine running for the 2010 happening

I have been accused of letting taxi drivers off lightly in this column.

I have been accused of letting taxi drivers off lightly in this column.

I have heard that this might be so because I am related to a taxi tycoon or that I have shares in the business. This is not so. I am just a typical working stiff who does not have ties to any money-making machine.

The fact is that the routes I use daily to and from work are efficient, punctual (the township taxis leave at 15-minute intervals) and clean.

One or two taxis might be scrappy-looking, but as soon as passengers complain, something is done about them. The routes I travel are, therefore, boring and safe.

But I cannot say the same for the taxi associations.

The associations always get the same things wrong - over and over again. Their daily operations are flawless, relatively speaking, but they seem unable to plan ahead for the festive season, Easter break or major holidays.

The congestion and long queues this year started even earlier than usual. On Monday, the beginning of Holy Week, the queues were unbelievable. And this continued right through the week.

The associations know that many owners and drivers go home to the rural homesteads, Esigodini, at this time of the year. So why can't these associations provide a professional service?

The grannies and their six or so grandchildren clogged the lines. People with three or four pieces of luggage, as though they were off to the Caribbean for the cricket, crowded out ordinary workers.

Someone will soon start a rumour that South African workers begin their holidays early. They will say that we get overexcited at the idea of a long weekend and stop going to work.

As it is, we have a bad reputation regarding African time. This is just a myth. It is bad and untrue.

People panic when they think that they will not be able to clock in at work on time.

It would be a brilliant idea for the taxi industry to practise carrying huge volumes ahead of the 2010 "happening".

The best time is during the festive season and at Easter when most people move everything - babies, duvets, suitcases, bicycles and all - to their ancestral homes in other provinces.

The associations must make sure taxis are available for those who are not fortunate enough to work for bosses who allow them time off.

Then they can practise moving half our population to all those oddly named places. Have you heard of a place called Blouboschrand? I assure you it is on the map.

Right now, the taxi system collapses as soon as a few more people join the queue. They should have used the profits they made from the bus strike to practise and plan strategies for the next time.

I am not saying taxi owners should rejoice every time there is a bus strike, but they should strike while the iron is hot and remember that every dark cloud has a silver lining.