The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) industry in KwaZulu-Natal has launched a training academy aimed at assisting drivers, operators and managers in the industry. 

The launch of the academy is in an effort to counter the negative light cast on the taxi industry, nationwide.

The training plans to equip those in the industry with skills to better their customer care, human resources, business finance, advanced driving skills and first aid.

Santaco said the training aims to address unruly behaviour by taxi drivers and other issues such as conflict and bad customer service which occur on a daily basis.

By the end of March, Santaco said it planned to jointly train at least 3,200 taxi drivers and operators in the province.

“Our business should focus on making our commuters happy,” Santaco’s provincial training officer in KZN, Jeffrey Ngobese said. “We don’t want to hear of incidents where drivers shout at and disrespect commuters.”

He reiterated that the council has prioritised formal training to swiftly address things like customer care, road safety, and conflict within the taxi business.

He said drivers and operators will be required to produce their training certificates when renewing or applying for permits.

“After this training, drivers will be expected to sign the code of conduct form, which will bind them to do things according to Santaco’s rules and regulations,” he said.

There is talk within the industry that the certificate acquired from these formal training courses will become a prerequisite for the issuing of and renewal of Professional Driving Permits (PrDP) for drivers and operating permits for taxi bosses.

Government has reportedly been approached to enact this law as members of the taxi regulatory body feel this will significantly assist in regulating the industry.

As it stands, the taxi industry significantly contributes towards the South African economy, however the negativity shrouding the industry is affecting the trust and level of safety experienced by local commuters that use the public transport system.

Ngobese said Santaco was working with municipalities to clean up the country’s taxi ranks.

He added that the council plans for taxi ranks to be comparable to airports and that there will be a shift to “modernise them”.