Taxi commuters ignored in recapitalisation programme

The National Taxi Alliance has finally woken up and challenged Transport Minister Jeff Radebe's recapitalisation project.

The National Taxi Alliance has finally woken up and challenged Transport Minister Jeff Radebe's recapitalisation project.

The minister has a tame body called Santaco, who have also turned their backs on the scheme. Hopefully, when the minister reopens negotiations, all the problems will be sorted out.

Taxi owners complain that the new taxis are too expensive. The government pays R50000 for every old crock that is scrapped. Apparently, this is not enough since inflation has rocketed and halved the actual value of the subsidy.

They also complain about the taxi-licensing scheme, which is in a shambles and does not solve the route wars between associations.

Taxi drivers say that the new taxis do not drive well and are a bit flimsy. Owners buy the cheapest models. No one has reassured us that these expensive buses are safe.

Commuters have their own troubles with the new taxis. Most of the space in the taxi is in headroom. This does not help us because there are no shelves for our luggage.

The taxi's upper body is solid metal. No air circulates in this box. There are only four windows, so if a lady with a new hairdo sits near one it means that we are minus an opening.

The ultimate insult is the seating. Some of the vehicles are made by a Chinese firm. This means that the research was done on skinny Chinese people who have nothing to recommend their back view.

Shaka and Moshoeshoe's great-grandchildren have ample behinds that store fat for the periodic droughts that plague southern Africa every seven years. I have heard that these love cushions turn green and yellow after being squeezed and squashed on the tiny seats of the new taxis. Many couples have fallen out because the men suspect other causes for the injuries.

There is another serious defect in the design of the recapitalised buses. The wheel wells protrude into the interior and are situated between the seats. The legroom virtually shrinks and commuters have to sit sideways to fit between the seats.

The pain from bad posture, especially on long-distance taxis, is excruciating. There will soon be a new disease afflicting us, "Taxi sideway seatis", from sitting in an unnatural position.

There are lots of seatbelts. We have to sit on them and we are painfully reminded that we share a seat every time the taxi rides over a pothole. Taxi drivers don't avoid potholes, they face them head-on.

I wish someone would start a taxi commuters' association so that we can have a stake in the redesign and recapitalisation programme. Our voices are never heard.

Where are those old political activists who are now without a cause? Here is a perfect opportunity for them to hog centre stage again.