Mzansi's taxi industry is no longer lucrative and requires technology to be saved.
This is according to Quickloc8 founder and chief executive, Mbavhalelo Mabogo. He said that this industry has been the biggest creator of black entrepreneurs for decades and currently experiencing existential challenges.
“Contrary to popular opinion, the taxi industry is still the most reliable and preferred mode of transport for 60% of commuters. The reason for this preference stems from the simple fact that a taxi goes to more places, more often and much cheaper and that’s why South Africans love them,” said Mabogo.
According to Mabogo, taxis are still a lot safer means of transportation than buses or trains and they are the preferred mode of transportation for women and children.
He added that the industry has been dealt with several severe dents in the few decades, from rising costs of buying taxis, the rising cost of petrol, high-interest rates and commuters levels eroded by new market entrants such as e-hailing, employees working from home and more.
“The SA government has signalled an appetite for assisting the industry with various programmes aimed at growing the industry. Programmes such as the National Taxi Recapitalisation (2005), the Covid-19 taxi relief fund that was launched in 2022 (R1.135 Billion) and the various driver and taxi owner incentive programmess such as The Blue Dot (Western Cape) and the Moja Cruise (in Kwazulu Natal). These are all kind gestures and signals of political will, albeit small.”
However, the entrepreneur added that it appears that the national Department of Transport has no immediate plans to assist the taxi industry beyond the Taxi Recapitalisation Plan.
According to Mabogo, this uncertainty and lack of resolution on the subsidy is a source of frustration for the industry.
The taxi industry's difficulties and challenges are similar to the “Gordian Knot” in that they are complicated, complex, and appear to be insurmountable, he said. While people wait for the government to coalesce, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and technology provide the best and simplest solution to some of their most urgent challenges.
“The industry should arrest the bleeding. Real-time technology can assist taxi owners to monitor the return on assets or return on movement by plotting daily taxi performance in a way that is easy to understand. The same data can be used to monitor and enforce route compliance, the source of most conflicts and animosity in the industry.
“The daily data gathered by the associations can be used to assess supply and demand, analyse movements during peak/off-peak, total kilometres driven and monitor drivers’ performance,” Mabogo said.