The first group of taxi drivers and owners have completed the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport’s skills development training with the aim of making taxi transport safer and preventing accidents such as the Pinetown taxi crash, which left two people dead.

The first group of taxi drivers and owners have completed the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport’s skills development training with the aim of making taxi transport safer and prevent accidents such as the Pinetown taxi crash, which left two people dead.

The three-month pilot project involved 150 taxi drivers and 150 taxi owners in Nquthu in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. The KZN Transport Department invested R1,2 million rand in this project and it should be extended to other regions of KwaZulu-Natal and provinces.

The drivers were trained in road safety and customer care, while the owners were taught business skills and the value of vehicle maintenance. “With 60 per cent of the people in the province using the taxi industry for transport we cannot ignore this sector. We have to ensure it is improved and managed better and safely,” department spokesman Thabang Chiloane told CARtoday.com.

“We first approached the taxi council about the idea. They liked it and spoke to the different taxi groups. They told their members that those who are going on the course would be suspended if they missed a single day or, in the case of a driver, fired, as this was important. Of all the people who registered for this course we have had 100 per cent attendance and participation,” he said.

Chiloane said the project had merit. “Since we began the training in Nguthu we have had a reduction in crashes involving taxis in the area. It’s about a change in mindset. Some of the drivers think they are God’s gift to the world and they need to stop thinking like that and treat their passengers and other road users with respect. They must realise they do not own the road. They were taught the value of treating their passengers as customers, looking after them to ensure their safety and continued support,” he said.

There have been a number of horrific accidents involving taxis in the province. Thirteen people died early in May when two taxis crashed near Umzinto. The taxi drivers were allegedly involved in a game, in which two vehicles going in opposite directions pretend to be crashing head-on but, before they crash, the drivers swerve back to their lanes and proceed with their journey. But in this case one of the drivers failed to make it back to his lane, resulting in the accident.

In August last year a taxi driver drove into a crowd of runners and spectators at a fun run outside Pinetown after the brakes on the vehicle failed. Two people were killed. There was outrage this week when the driver was fined only R5 000.

The first group of graduates will be given certificates by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport S’bu Ndebele at the Nquthu Stadium, Nquthu in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday. The MEC is also expected to announce in which areas the next training project will be held.

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Original article from Car