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Re: pedestrians fight back

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  • dawie_coetzee
    There 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
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 1, 2007
      There 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
      road traffic.

      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 carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Andie Miller" <andiem@...>
      > http://www.citizen.co.za/index/article.aspx?pDesc=31444,1,22
      > (see pic)
      > Rubber bullets fired at protesting community
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