Formal skills certification to increase safety for commuters and reduce costs for operators.
SA Taxi, the country’s only independent financer of minibus taxis and one of the country’s few certified developmental credit providers, is providing training for unqualified technicians currently repairing vehicles at taxi ranks.
Project Refentse, which recently kicked off, adds another component to SA Taxi’s extended business platform designed to improve the minibus taxi industry’s sustainability. The project is funded by the SA Taxi Foundation and managed by Taximart – a division of SA Taxi that refurbishes taxis and makes them available to the second hand market.
Candidates for the training programme have been identified and nominated by the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA).
At a direct cost of some R22 000 per candidate (this amount excludes Taximart time and resources), the training will prepare participants over a 12-week period for a recognised motor mechanics trade test. Each candidate will receive a daily stipend, lunch, and a tool box worth R4 000.
“As with everything else we do at SA Taxi, Project Refentse is focused on helping to formalise the industry,” says SA Taxi Communications Executive, Maroba Maduma.
“The industry is the lifeblood of the country’s economy. Without it, people can’t get to work, shops, or school. Without employees, business can’t function. Without consumers, the retail sector would shrivel and die.
“It is extraordinary that so vital an industry still operates largely on an informal basis, with extremely limited accepted business knowledge to underpin it. In fact, it has become a role model for running not just a business but an industry on an almost exclusively cash basis.
“Even so, a lack of formal business and technical know-how brings its own special sustainability challenges. The industry could be still more successful and operations could be significantly less onerous were stakeholders better equipped to play their roles.
“In the case of informal mechanics providing services at the ranks, for instance, lack of training and appropriate tools inhibits their ability to provide a higher value service and, therefore, to earn a steady income. It also constitutes a potential threat to the safety of commuters and can actually cost operators more because of an increase in breakdowns.
“Refentse will provide the mechanics with marketable skills. It will help to keep taxis in good shape at a cost that is still affordable to operators. And it will boost road safety.
“Overall, it will increase the professionalism of the industry and position the industry as a skills and talent developer.”
Once the pilot with an initial ten participants is completed and assessed, Project Refentse will be rolled out on a broader basis.