/ 17 March 2008

‘Taxi pledge’ to encourage respect for commuters

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) launched a ”taxi pledge” on Monday.

The pledge will encourage taxi drivers to drive safer and treat commuters with more dignity and respect, said spokesperson Thabo Smouse.

The spotlight has been on taxi violence recently after a 25-year-old woman was stripped and assaulted by taxi drivers at Johannesburg’s Noord Street taxi rank because she was wearing a miniskirt.

The pledge is supported by Metropolitan Holdings and is the first initiative of its kind.

”It aims to improve taxi operations, change perceptions and ensure that the future of the industry remains viable,” said Smouse.

The pledge will be launched in two phases. In the first, Santaco and Metropolitan officials will distribute pledge pamphlets to taxi drivers and commuters, encouraging the drivers to make the pledge.

The pamphlets will be distributed at prominent taxi ranks in Johannesburg.

”The second phase, which is still being finalised, aims to seek ways of improving driver professionalism,” said Smouse.

Santaco president Jabulani Mthembu said the organisation is going back to its roots, ”upholding the values that we were brought up with — the values of respect, dignity and caring”.

The miniskirt incident has been widely condemned, and Santaco said earlier this month that it would like to apologise publicly to the woman who was assaulted.

Santaco secretary general Philip Taaibosch said the body would also like to apologise to all women who had suffered abuses while using taxi transport.

He was speaking in a meeting with members of the Commission on Gender Equality and the Progressive Women’s Movement to discuss the February 17 incident. — Sapa