Three of Johannesburg's parks suburbs ---Parkhurst, Parkview and Parktown --- now have a green, petit Southeast Asian servicing them.
The tuk-tuk is the transport of choice for millions in Southeast Asia, but it is now becoming a fixture in the north of Johannesburg too. The short-distance shuttle service is the brainchild of Dean Liversage and his “silent partner”.
Although it has only been in operation for a few months, the service has already been heartily welcomed.
Liversage lived in Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia between 2007 and 2008, where he regularly used the ubiquitous tuk-tuks.
After training as a chef, he worked for a hard, uninterrupted three years in Britain and Ireland before heading East. There hoteliers told him: “You teach our staff to cook Western food and you will stay in our hotels for free.”
When Liversage returned to South Africa a few years later he missed the convenience of Europe, where it is “easy to get around on trams and buses”.
He added that he was “sick of walking in the suburbs” and “hated driving drunk and being stopped by cops” and thought about introducing the tuk-tuk service.
So he applied for a licence for the tuk-tuk, a process that took him two years. The three-wheelers are imported from India but assembled in Johannesburg.
“It takes two days to assemble one,” Liversage said. Ten vehicles are already on the road and they hope to have 100 by the end of next year in the whole of Gauteng.
He is careful not to get in the way of the cut-throat taxi operations and at the moment they operate mostly in Rosebank, Parkview, Parkhurst and Parktown, and may extend to Fourways.
Although the tuk-tuks are still a booking service, the idea is to get enough of them on the road for wayfarers to hail like minibus taxis.
Liversage’s tuk-tuks are painted green and boast the tag line “go green”.
It is not an empty declaration. The vehicles have a special emissions filter, ensuring 90% less toxic gases. The company also sponsors a tree-planting charity.
To use the service, call 073 887 1061 or go to tuktuksa.co.za