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Taxi drivers are on course for compulsory specialist training that will include advanced driver training and safety, and customer care.
JOBURG’S taxi drivers are going to be out of their drivers’ seats and settling into classroom chairs as a new taxi academy introduces compulsory specialist training.

 

Customer careCourses will include customer carePlans for the academy have been in the pipeline since September 2010, when the national Department of Transport announced its intention to implement a major overhaul of the public transport sector. The minibus taxi industry is to be the main target of this initiative as taxis carry over 60 percent of South Africa’s commuters.
 

It will focus on providing advanced driver training and safety, customer care, and first aid, as well as lessons in business management, such as how to operate a small business.

The academy is scheduled to be fully up-and-running by the end of the year. Although its headquarters will be in Welkom, satellite centres will be opened around the country.

Launching the centre in Johannesburg has fallen to the Gauteng Taxi Council (Gataco). “Gataco has appointed the services of a skills development facilitator, Elize Drage, to assist in establishing a training college for the taxi industry in Gauteng for the whole province, and not necessarily for Johannesburg,” said the spokesperson for the Gauteng department of roads and transport, Robert Mkhatshwa.

“Gataco and its skills development facilitator identified a place in Krugersdorp where training will be taking place, and has already applied for accreditation from the Transport Seta [sector education and training authority].”

The Transport Seta, known as Teta, had already approved the funding needed for the training to be conducted, Mkhatshwa added.

Drage explained that this funding would be in the form of a discretionary grant, for which the college had to apply every year. How much was needed and how much funding was available, would reflect on how many drivers would be trained.

Approximately 135 taxi drivers from around Gauteng are expected to take the inaugural training programme; 50 will be from Johannesburg, 30 from Tshwane, another 30 from Ekurhuleni and 25 from Sedibeng.

 

Taxi drivers have been trained to operate Rea Vaya busesTaxi drivers have been trained to operate Rea Vaya buses“The training will begin at the end of July, and will take 12 days, including the practical component of the course,” said Drage. “Regional associations and councils will be responsible for recruiting drivers and referring them to us.”
 

Resistance to a training academy has given way to compliance as the taxi industry has realised the benefits to be gained from improved public transport.

It had become increasingly involved in plans to advance the sector, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele pointed out in his budget speech to parliament on 1 June. A particular example of this, was taxi operators becoming 66 percent shareholders in PioTrans, the bus operating company of Phase 1A of Rea Vaya, Joburg’s Bus Rapid Transit system, in February.

“This constitutes one of the most significant broad-based black economic empowerment transactions that our country has seen in the transport sector in recent years,” Ndebele said.

Rea Vaya has contributed considerably to transforming the city’s public transport sector by providing a reliable and affordable service. It has also prompted the expansion and improvement of bus transport systems in the inner cities of other South African metropoles, most notable Cape Town, Durban and Tshwane.

And it has prompted negotiations with the taxi industry in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro regarding launching the same type of system.

The overhaul of the public transport sector was also hoping to bring about the mass mobilisation of women as operators and owners.

 

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