Minibus taxis are the most popular mode of transport for most of South Africa’s population. In fact, the taxi industry is made up of 90% minibus taxis (Arrive Alive, 2018).
These taxis are the most available and affordable form of public transport in most urban areas in South Africa. Despite the advantages associated with minibus taxis, the disadvantages sometimes outweigh the advantages. That’s why we put together 5 questions to help you overcome challenges associated with using minibus taxis. Make sure you have answers to the questions – for every trip. We recommend finding a friendly taxi driver, local or fellow Nigerian who can answer all these questions a day before your trip.
1. What is your destination?
Know the name of the destination (e.g. Johannesburg Zoo or Joburg Zoo), and street address (e.g. Jan Smuts Ave & Upper Park Dr, Parkview, Johannesburg, 2193).
Quick safety tips:
- Do not get off in unfamiliar places or in the middle of nowhere
- If you are unfamiliar with your destination. Check it on Google Maps so that you know what to look out for.
- If possible travel at a reasonable time, preferably not night time.
- Tell someone where you are going and update them as often as possible
Of the 36 lives lost daily on South African roads, 3 (8%) are killed in taxi related incidents (Arrive Alive, 2018).
2. Will the taxi drop you off at your destination?
Unfortunately, the taxi will not always be able to drop you off at your final or preferred destination. Taxis follow a predetermined route, known only by taxi drivers and frequent passengers.
The taxi industry consists of about 150 000 minibus taxis (Arrive Alive, 2018).
3. What time must you be at your destination?
Once again, taxis take a predetermined route that doesn’t always favour the passenger. Leave early to avoid being late. Waiting and travel times can be very long when using taxis so allocate two or three hours for waiting and travelling. Peak hours are early in the morning (there are many passengers going to work) and late afternoons (there are many passengers going home from work).
During peak hours, there are long queues of taxi passengers, long waiting times and a low number of taxis. During off peak hours, there are short queues of taxi passengers, long waiting times and high numbers of taxis.
4. Where do you get taxis to your destination?
Find out where you will be getting a taxi from. Is it from a taxi rank or by the side of the road. Which hand sign must you make to make the taxi stop? If you are going to a taxi rank then make sure you are standing at the right queue. If you are not sure that you are standing in the right queue then ask queue marshals, locals and taxi drivers.
Try this greeting.
Sure Boss, please where can I get the taxi to Joburg Zoo?
5. Where in the taxi should you sit?
If you are early or lucky enough to choose where to sit, make sure you do not sit in the backseat or the front passenger seat. Choose any other seat (maybe one close to the window, if you prefer) and you should be comfortable.
Do not sit in the front passenger seat, if your mathematics and multilingual skills are poor.
Whoever sits in the front passenger seat is expected to collect and count all the taxi fare. If you have never done this before then you’re lucky because it is daunting. Both the driver and passengers can be very unforgiving about their money. Passengers want their change before they get off at their destination. The driver wants all his money so if someone did not pay then you will be blamed. Most taxi passengers speak the local South African languages not English. With that said, being a Nigerian and sitting in the front seat of a taxi in South Africa are like oil and water. They don’t mix!