It is so uncommon these days in the UK to see people hitching a lift on the side of the road it takes you by surprise when you see hoards of people who have no form of transport. They are going shopping, to visit friends, to work and back all activities we do daily, without thinking and forward planning.
Imagine if you have to build time into your day to hopefully get a lift to work? What happens if no one is kind enough to pick you up?
Thankfully long gone are the days of the taxis above. Taxis are now organised minibus runs on a timetable to ferry people to and from where they need to go. The taxi mini buses firms rule their territory with a firm hand and watch your back if you attempt to hit on their patch.
People using Taxi service each day 14 million
Officially registered minibus taxis 200,000
Average taxis per owner 7
Avg monthly kilometres driven by a taxi 8,000
Avg number of passengers transported monthly per vehicle 3,161
Avg time spent daily in a taxi by a passenger 65 min
Avg number of trips per passenger per day 2.3
Despite the number of taxis available in South Africa out in the country on the Garden route it is a slightly different story. While there are minibus taxis that run on a regular basis to Plettenburg Bay that is not the case when you have to reach a remote location like Nature’s Valley. There is one bus run into the Valley in the morning and one bus out again at two o’clock.
Last week when returning the hire car I needed to find a way to get back from Plettenburg Bay to Nature’s Valley. My man Gavin from the Engen (remember him from I met a man called…) looked at me in amazement when I said I’ll just get a taxi. “Good God Sam it will cost you an arm and a leg” he laughs shoving a taxi company number card in my hand. “These are the cheapest in town, give them a call – then come back to me”.
I dialled the number on the car asked the kind lady for the cost of the fare from Plettenburg Bay to Nature’s Valley.
“350 Rand” she says.
“Did you say 150 Rand?” I asked quite unable to believe my ears.
“No 350 rand” she replies.
“Thank you that will be all” I say.
Now just to put this into perspective, 350 rand = £17 / €22 / $25 . Yes, I can already hear you saying “hey that’s not bad in the UK I pay that at the weekend to get back from the pub”. This is a small fortune out here, my car rental per day is 170 rand so I could I fact re-hire the car I just returned for 2 days for the price of the taxi. Which is exactly what I did, I rehired the car for 1 day until someone could pick me up free of charge from the Engen.
Now I understand why there are so many people hanging on the side of the road at the township Kurland Village very close to Nature’s Valley. They have missed their taxi service and hoping and praying some kind soul is going to pick them up so they can get to their destination. I also understand why nothing ever starts on time as it is impossible to co-ordinate getting everyone there on time.
So I have recently done my duty and picked up some ladies that have been waiting to come into The Valley or get back to Kurland. It feels good to help someone on their way for the day. That said I know my limitations and will not be picking up strange men (yes Mum I hear ya!)
Only in South Africa !