The new operating hours introduced by Queenstown Uncedo Service Taxi Association (Qusta) in Ezibeleni this month are yielding positive results after 74 taxis were repossessed due to the over-saturated local market.
The rank operating hours have changed from 9am and now extend from to 6am to 7pm, Mondays to Fridays and from 5am to 4pm on Saturdays.
Qusta chair Sandi Mgobo said the dwindling number of trips per day had resulted in financial constraints which made taxi owners incapable of paying the monthly instalments.
The issue prompted Mgobo to conduct an investigation into the sector before coming up with a turnaround plan with his executive to save more transport businesses from fading away, leaving many families without an income.
He said before the local taxi industry became saturated, a taxi driver made at least R800 per day. This, he said, drew more people who viewed the transport sector as a way to make money. “Those who had retired began to join the taxi business. We also created space for those who were drivers for more than 10 years who had saved up to buy their own taxis to join the business.”
According to Mgobo the impact of increased numbers of vehicles began to become evident about 10 years ago. This led to the establishment of the current taxi rank in the township. He said before the new operating times were introduced, rank operators picked up passengers as they pleased, until 9am.
“This was a waste of petrol because a taxi would have to take five passengers to town and return without generating the required amount to make a profit,” he said.
Mgobo said other taxi associations and stakeholders were consulted before the operating schedules were amended.
“With this new system, drivers are now able get at least four to five trips per day. Before they would get one or two per day while others went home without a single trip, making it impossible for them to pay their instalm ents.”
Mgobo said people were starting to commend the changes, which they saw were making a difference.
With the new system he said problems like drivers dicing to get to passengers first were to end, along with those who were eager to keep passengers by buying them a packet of chips.
“Ezibeleni has young drivers who were prioritised to curb unemployment, but they were under enormous pressure to meet the targets set by taxi owners. I could see it would lead to a tragic accident one day. The speeding made passengers uncomfortable.”