By Bahle Gama
Permitted taxi operators are threatening to put off all illegally operating taxis from the streets as they are threatening the survival of their business. Understandably, removing pirating taxis is the new year’s resolution for taxi drivers who are legally operating in Mbabane.
In an interview, some of the taxi drivers found near the bus rank along Betfusile Sand Gwamile Streets jointly stated that they hoped they will not deal with ‘illegitimate’ taxi operators in 2023.
“It is very frustrating for us, and we are hoping that we will not have to deal with these people in 2023 because it won’t end well for them,” said one driver who declined to have his name disclosed.
Another taxi operator who only identified himself as Musa Dlamini said over the years, they tolerated taxi operators who didn’t have permits but now feel this must come to an end.
“In every six months, we pay E2 000 for permits, they, on the other hand, pay nothing, but they successfully take our customers. How are we then supposed to generate the money we have spent on paying for the permits when we barely have customers,” wondered Dlamini.
He was echoed by Sanele Shabangu who parks his vehicle along Gwamile Road next to Spar, who stated that these taxis are unfairly competing with them because they charge a lower rate compared to the standard price.
“If for example, we are expected to charge the gazetted E60 and they, on the other hand, decide to charge E40, obviously as a customer you will choose the cheaper one resulting in us incurring huge losses. This is frustrating,” said Shabangu.
Adding to the permit-paying taxi drivers’ frustration is the inability to use imports as per the requirements of the municipality. They stated that it was costly maintaining the vehicles they are using because of the models compared to the pirating taxi drivers who are reportedly driving imported cars.
“They can afford these Honda Fits and all the other imports, hence the ability to steal our customers. Their cars are in good condition, and we are unable to change our vehicles because of the regulations that are accompanied by the permit,” said Shabangu.
He added that as a result, the pirating drivers will continue to increase and take their customers. In response to whether this matter was reported to the appropriate stakeholders, the drivers were unclear as they all suggested that they would not receive any assistance.
“It’s no use because we have had to deal with situations almost similar to this in the past without the assistance of the Municipality,” said another.
Attempts to get a comment from the Municipality Council of Mbabane’s Information and Public Relations Officer (IPRO) Lucky Tsabedze were unsuccessful notwithstanding numerous messages and calls made to him.