Independent financer of minibus taxis, SA Taxi, has announced that it will be providing training for unqualified technicians currently repairing vehicles at taxi ranks.

Formal skills certification now available for taxi rank technicians 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 toolbox worth R4,000.

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“Project Refentse is focused on helping to formalise the industry,” says SA Taxi communications executive, Maroba Maduma.

Maduma went on to say that 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 still be more successful and operations could be significantly less difficult where stakeholders are better equipped to play their roles.” He continued.

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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.

“Project 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 skill and talent developer.” Said Maduma

Once the pilot with an initial ten participants is completed and assessed, Project Refentse will be rolled out on a broader basis.