Mmegi Online :: Frustrations of a taxi operator
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Last Updated
Wednesday 19 December 2018, 16:17 pm.
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Frustrations of a taxi operator

FRANCISTOWN: Dusk till dawn, the ground of the Francistown bus rank endures a rout by both people and vehicles.
By Keneilwe Ramphopho Kesone Nkaelang Fri 12 Jan 2018, 15:59 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Frustrations of a taxi operator








Cars, combis, buses and taxis battle for survival, drawing in people to transport to their destinations and taxis happen to lead in numbers.  

It does not even seem safe anymore for people who passby daily. The minute one thinks they found their path, their heart skips a beat with the countless honks and at the brink of catching a breath, a careless taxi driver bumps right next to one and rushes off as if they were in some kind of a race.

Fifty-seven-year-old Tymon Matebesi, who has been a taxi driver for several years has nothing to show for it after sweating so much. To him, running a taxi business is akin to venturing into a thankless trade. For a man who enjoyed his job as a taxi driver for more than 15 years now, he has his labour pains compromised and pay in shambles due to the increasing rate of pirating taxis.

Eavesdropping into the driver’s conversations one might find that indeed they are all in a chaotic jungle race, a survival of the fittest.  To the knowledge of the city’s transport officials only 540 registered taxis have been recorded of which the congestion of the rank suggests the existence of a significant number of pirated taxis. The chairperson of Botswana Bus, Taxi and Truck Association (BBTTA), Matebesi said this. According to superintendent Emisang Makgasane, a total of 13 cases of vehicles carrying passengers for reward without permit were recorded in the previous festive season.

“This is a saddening situation as our complaints to the government have not been addressed as of yet,” a concerned Matebesi said.

A lot of travelling is done during the holiday season, the most convenient time for profit generating for transport operators.

However,

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Matebesi said they are on a competing panel with pirate taxis or mechova for customers. The easily accessible measures of acquiring blue taxi plates has heightened the prevalence of pirate taxis.

“The matter has been worsened by the affordability of Japanese cars, which has almost every eligible person purchasing one and converting it to pirating services.

We sweat daily for peanuts as pirate taxis reap what we sow. Our families are not properly fed and yet we are expected to pay the government monthly, whom has not addressed our concerns,” the disheartened chairperson said.

He added that this has made the situation more worrisome and government intervention is seriously needed.

“At border gates, foreigners are often allowed with fake registrations to come and take over our businesses. When we reveal intent to report the culprits they reluctantly say the police cannot do anything about their business. Only officers stationed out of Francistown could possibly succeed,” he added.

Makgasane further noted to Mmegi that as the road safety committee, they address issues of vehicles carrying passengers for reward without permit only if taxi associations report the cases to them. “As the road safety committee,j we are usually involved with the taxi associations during road patrols and only when a case has been reported to us. We further conduct investigations to catch the culprits and issue out a fine of P400,” she added.

Matebesi urged that the government should possibly allow them as the Francistown taxi association and others to take responsibility of designing plate numbers that will distinguish between regulated and pirated taxis.

The design and specific distinguishing factors will only be known to the members of the association, a way to catch the culprits and eradicate the troublesome issue.

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