10166Re: pedestrians fight back
- Feb 1, 2007There is a particularly South African factor here, which it might be
worthwhile to explain to those who are not familiar with the country.
We have a long tradition of attaching different meanings to those
used by the rest of the world to words. For instance, in the days of
apartheid, 'location' meant 'black group area suburb' rather than
simply where something was. Similarly, 'taxi' in South Africa
means 'small privately-operated omnibus' rather than 'taximeter cab'.
These are car-sized minibuses operating on set routes, picking up and
dropping off passengers along the way, much like public buses.
The major difference is that they do not constitute a politically
accountable component of an integrated system of public transport.
The industry originated in the 'bad old days' when a minibus-taxi
venture was one of very few business fields open to black people. The
result was far more minibus taxis than the available passenger pool
warranted, consequent fierce competition over routes, and the
emergence of a sort of taxi mafia which regularly resorts to violence
to settle disputes over route allocations, etc. Because of this
ferocity of competition and culture, minibus taxi drivers are
generally considered the most dangerous drivers on South African
roads. Minibus taxis moreover represent a sizeable proportion of all
The current problem is that minibus taxis are generally considered to
be a mode of public transport. Urban designers think they are being
all urban by accommodating taxis, like a sort of third-world Metro in
archipelago form. Local public transport initiatives consequently
tend at least to include new and improved taxi ranks. There are as
yet very few who question this received wisdom. The idea of a system
of public transport in which the minibus taxi does not feature at all
is not considered.
The government is trying to implement a Taxi Recapitalization
Programme against severe opposition from the minibus taxi industry.
This will achieve little more than replacing simple, user-fixable
vehicles used inappropriately with overcomplicated, disposable
vehicles used inappropriately. It will not solve the real problem,
which is that minibus taxis have the same spatial and practical
requirements as any other motor vehicle. A city suited to the minibus
taxi is a car-shaped city.
The beginnings of a shift are there: a recent column by well-known
local journalist John Matshikiza did in fact question the publicness
of the minibus taxi as a mode of transport.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Andie Miller" <andiem@...>
> (see pic)
> Rubber bullets fired at protesting community
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