According to data by released in Transaction Capital’s annual report for 2019, the JSE-listed company owns SA Taxi, which finances, sells, and insures minibus taxis, with more than 32,000 operators on its books. While far fewer South Africans travelled by rail and bus the previous year, the minibus tax industry remained robust – representing 75% of all trips to work, schools and universities in South Africa. Long-distance operators can earn R37,000 in profit a month. According to SA Taxi’s research, the average short-route operator on the 23km route between Soweto and Johannesburg can earn a profit of around R25,000 of a month. This is an increase of R5,000 from the previous year.
Taxis only represent 2% of SA’s total number of registered vehicles
There are 250,000 minibus taxis currently doing business in South Africa, of which 30% operate in Gauteng and 21% in KwaZulu-Natal.
69% of all South African households use minibus taxis
This is up from only 59% in 2003. Taxis represented 75% of all transport to work, schools and universities in South Africa last year. Minibus taxis were responsible for 15 million daily computer trips – spanning 18 billion kilometres – last year. This is equivalent to almost 47,000 trips to the moon. By comparison, buses represented 900,000 trips a day (a decline of 5% from the previous year), followed by trains (600,000), which declined by 23% in a single year. SA’s passenger rail network was repeatedly brought to a standstill in the past year as vandals wreaked havoc. Some have blamed the sabotage on taxi operators, who benefit most from rail disruption – an accusation denied by the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta).
Three people are killed in taxi-related accidents every day.
Some 8% of SA’s road facilities involved taxis in 2017. Of the 38 people who die in accidents per day on South African roads on average, three are killed in taxi related incidents, according to a report by the department of transport.
More than 40% of assassinations in SA are related to the taxi industry
According to research by the University of Cape Town and The Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, 43% of all assassinations in the country are related to the taxi industry. This is almost double those related to politics (22%) and organised crime (22%). “Such murders are usually connected to disputes over route allocations and power struggles within the lucrative taxi associations,” the report states. Some 500 taxi operators were assassinated in KwaZulu-Natal alone in the period between 2000 and 2017.
Taxi owners get R124,000 when they trade in their own models
The Department of Transport increased the mini-bus taxi scrapping allowance from R91,100 to R124,000 per vehicle last year. Government introduced the scheme more than a decade ago, to encourage taxi owners to take older, unsafe vehicles off the road, and replace them with safer vehicles. By the end of 2018, almost 73,000 taxis had been scrapped and a total amount of R4.4 billion was paid to taxi owners.
2015 presentation – The minibus taxi industry offers an opportunity for individuals to establish their own SMEs. This industry in itself has an eco-system where each minibus taxi placed on the road has a direct and indirect implication on job creation. According to the Department of Transport, the taxi industry as a whole has enabled over 960 000 direct and indirect jobs.
Source: National Land Transport Strategic Framework 2015 | Passenger statistics from Arrive Alive & StatsSA noting individuals can take more than one mode of transport | SABOA website | ‘HERE’ Point of Interest Dataset (version Q4 – 2015)
100% of taxis financed by SA Taxi are fully insured. 85% of SA Taxi’s taxi owners choose to insure with SA Taxi. Additionally SA Taxi insures ~3 700 non-financed minibus taxis
Source: National Household Travel Survey 2013 | SA Taxi’s best estimate through our engagement with the industry & extrapolation of internal data.
- Taxis are the most popular mode of transport in urban areas for the majority of South Africa’s population.
- The South African taxi industry plays an important role in the economy considering that the majority of South Africans are poor and dependent on public transport.
- The taxi industry consists of minibuses, dominating 90% of the market, and metered taxis active in the remaining 10% of the market
- Public transport by taxis account for 65% of the transport total, 20% by bus and 15% by rail
- The industry consists of approximately 150 000 public minibus taxis.
- Of the 36 lives lost daily on our roads – 3 are killed in taxi related incidents
- The South African taxi industry is estimated to have a turnover of more than R16,5 billion
- The minibus taxi industry in South Africa is comprised of more than 20 000 owners and 200 000 employees.
Threats to Road Safety
- The biggest challenge is to make transport safe, efficient and affordable.
- Government has therefore taken considerable steps to regulate the minibus taxi industry in the best interests of public safety and to transform it into a more profitable business in which income is derived from a wider basket of income generating enterprises and not just fares.
- Taxis are often seen as unsafe and operating in a way that is abusive to passengers.
- Illegal operators in the industry have contributed to violence in the industry.
- A study done by the Automobile Association of South Africa recorded an annual total of 70 000 minibus taxi crashes which indicates that taxis in SA amount for double the rate of crashes than all other passenger vehicles.
- Detailed accident data is not available for this category of vehicle, so there is insufficient evidence to support a clear cause for the number of fatalities in minibus taxi accidents.
- Minibus taxis are subjected to much more severe operating conditions than the average passenger car.
- Minibus taxis frequently operate at speeds higher than the limit to cut travel time in order to secure more loads or passengers.
- While operating at these speeds, usually overloaded, the stopping distance of these vehicles change considerably from the design, usually resulting in fatal consequences.
- The pressure is on the driver to meet strict daily requirements of numbers, both in trips made and passengers ferried. This in turn impacted on his/her earnings.
- In the ultimate event of brake pad or lining replacement, the driver would purchase the cheapest available as this has a direct bearing on his wages.
- Because the minibus taxi industry has grown rapidly in the last decade in South Africa, numerous replacement brake pads and linings are available which are manufactured locally or imported.
- Roadworthiness and driver attitude are the most important aspects to address in the effort to improve the safety of commuters in minibus taxis
- Government has acknowledged that all efforts involving the minibus taxi industry required a strong consultation process with all stakeholders in the public transport industry.
- The most widely publicized and certainly the most ambitious Government intervention in the minibus taxi industry is the Recapitalisation programme.
- Through the Recap Project, Government seeks to challenge head-on the problem of an ageing fleet within our transportation system. The Recap Project represents a comprehensive re-engineering of the Taxi Industry with two major outcomes:(1)The systematic introduction of safe and comfortable vehicles for taxi commuters through scrapping allowance which will be an incentive for taxi operators to hand in, on a voluntary basis, the very old vehicles for decommissioning.
(2). The economic empowerment of the taxi industry through a package of business opportunities that the Recapitalisation Project affords the Taxi industry to participate in nationally through the SATACO structures as well as at the level of the provincial co-operatives.
The Taxi Recapitalisation Programme should not be regarded as a quick solution. Government has recognized that the sustainability of this and other interventions do not lie ONLY in the scrapping of old taxi vehicles but should include all of the following:
- Introduction of safety requirements for the new taxi vehicles
- Scrapping of existing vehicles
- Effective regulation of the taxi industry
- Effective law enforcement in respect of public transport, and
- Empowerment of the taxi industry
The Human Sciences Research Council reported that the majority of South Africans support plans to replace the current taxi fleet with new and safe vehicles. Only 28% of commuters who regularly use the service were opposed to the recapitalisation programme. About 50% of those opposed to the recapitalisation plan did so in the belief that it would increase unemployment and result in higher crime levels.