Some taxi owners in Mahikeng in the North West province have hired people to patrol known hitchhiking spots, in an attempt to stop people from catching lifts instead of using taxis.
Yusuf Mohammed Masibi, who represents taxi owners operating on the N4 route that includes Mahikeng, Zeerust and Rustenburg, said the taxi industry is taking a hard knock from losing prospective passengers to hitchhiking.
“We have had a lot of challenges with hiking spots. Some taxis could take two days without working because of hiking spots. In a day only one taxi could work and that has a financial impact on taxi owners. You’re unable to service your taxi, to pay for it and you can’t even provide for your family,” Masibi said.
He added that as taxi owners they decided to take action after government failed to intervene in this problem.
“Hiking is illegal, but people do it anyway. In this corner there were a lot incidents that happened. People were violated. We even asked government for assistance to help close hiking spots, but nothing has happened so far. So we decided to take action,” he added.
One of the people who prefer to hitchhike, Boitumelo Sebolediso, said this option is cheaper and much quicker than public transport.
“I prefer taking hikes, because I don’t have to wait long like at a taxi rank and I pay less than what I pay in taxis,” Sebolediso said.
On the other hand MEC for Community Safety and Transport Management in the North West, Sello Lehari, vowed to get rid of hiking spots within three months.
“We will continue attending to hiking spots, making sure that come April there are no more hiking spots in the province. We have received close to 97 new traffic officers. They are from training in Mpumalanga. With this number, we are going to manage to deal with hiking spots. Give us three months and after three months ask me about hiking spots,” said Lehari.