Women take the lead in making taxis safer

The Soul City Institute launched its Safe Taxis Charter in Johannesburg on Wednesday. The Charter is a collection of contributions from women and women-centred organisations in an effort to make public transport safer.

It was a product of the #SafeTaxisNow campaign which started in May, which drew attention to the way in which women feel targeted in public spaces, especially taxis. The Daily Vox is a media partner in the campaign.

Contributions to the Charter were collected through organisations like Soweto Women’s Forum which received input from urban women, and amandla.mobi who focused on rural and peri-urban women through an online petition.

Soul City’s Matokgo Makutoane said women are afraid to catch taxis to work, therefore continuing the cycle of poverty. She also said taxis were regulated previously so it could happen again.

Here’s an outline of the most significant changes the charter calls for:

  • Taxi drivers to undergo training on gender-based violence sensitivity and be cleared by police as “safe”
  • Taxi associations to have their own uniforms, and not wearing a uniform to be punishable by law
  • A rating app to be implemented for taxi drivers
  • Security to be present at taxi ranks and for them to be well lit
  • Taxi associations to present monthly reports on how they are dealing with complaints
  • For commuters to respect drivers, not to provoke them and to comply with the law
  • For the department of transport to make it compulsory on employers to arrange safe transport for workers who work late or in the early hours

Soul City and its partners plan to approach government and the taxi industry to implement the charter in the long term as a way to curb gender-based violence.