Like any other enterprise, what you put into it is what you will get out of it

Sipho Ndlamlenze became a taxi operator in 1976 because he believed he could make a good living.

Sipho Ndlamlenze became a taxi operator in 1976 because he believed he could make a good living.

Though he wouldn't divulge how many taxis he owns, Ndlamlenze, chairman of the Benoni Taxi Association (BTA), said he is satisfied with his business. Before buying his first taxi, Ndlamlenze worked as a taxi driver for an Indian family back in 1974.

While working for this family, he managed to save enough money and bought his first car in 1976. It was a Valiant.

He started operating in Daveyton, his home town.

In 1992, 16 years after entering the industry, he bought his second vehicle. It was a Hi-Ace minibus. It was after this that Ndlamlenze started seeing the fruits of his labour.

He later bought a few other vehicles, including a VW minibus.

He says you need to use your money wisely to survive in the taxi industry.

"You need to be careful when and how to use your money. Investment and savings are very important because as time passes it becomes imperative to increase your vehicles to supplement your income," said Ndlamlenze.

He was elected BTA chairman twice because of his experience in the industry. He became chairman for the second time eight months ago.

Ndlamlenze stresses that it is crucial to service and insure your vehicles if you are in the taxi or any other transport business.

He says servicing vehicles is crucial for the safety of one's passengers as well as for other road-users.

"The safety and well-being of passengers is very important. Owners need to insure their taxis and they must take out passenger liability cover," said Ndlamlenze.

His message to those who want to get into the industry is, have patience because the competition among taxi operators is stiff.

He said that that people skills and professionalism are crucial for succeeding in the industry.

Ndlamlenze said the BTA encourages a good relationship between their drivers and commuters. He said passengers must complain when the vehicles they are transported in are skoroskoros.

Ndlamlenze said the BTA adheres to the customer-care mission which forbids their drivers to be rude to passengers.

"That is a big no. We insist that our vehicles are always in good condition because passengers have a right to use safe taxis, and they must be treated with care and respect," he said.

The BTA disciplinary committee deals with rude members and drivers.

"If a driver ill-treats a passenger and we hear about it, we certainly take harsh steps," said Ndlamlenze.

He encourages commuters who experience problems with taxis to call the BTA at 011-421-9158.

Ndlamlenze said the BTA supports the October Transport Month because it makes people aware of the importance of public transport.

"When people use public transport they save the money they would otherwise be using in their own cars going to and from work. If people use taxis they support the local transport system and we appreciate that," Ndlamlenze said.

In Benoni and the surrounding townships of Etwatwa, Apex and Daveyton, the old cockroach-like cabs known as Amaphele are still popular.