Taxi drivers become ‘guardian angels’ through Operation Hlokomela
Operation Hlokomela was launched after a young girl from the Sekhukhune district went missing after she hitched a ride from Sekhukhune to Polokwane.
Santaco says that it is adamant about keeping people safe by patrolling the streets and keeping commuters from hitch-hiking. Basie Mafalo, David Ramusi, Wilson Mamorobela and David Mosoma.
POLOKWANE – Motorists who drive along the R71 may have noticed taxi association representatives and drivers at hiking spots until late at night to assist commuters along this busy route.
This effort is part of the national Santaco project, Hlokomela (to take care of).
The Chairperson of Santaco’s conflict resolution portfolio in Capricorn, Basie Mafalo, told BONUS the project includes various taxi associations providing help to communities, outside of their usual job descriptions.
This includes offering roadside assistance to drivers, helping to reduce accidents by patrolling certain areas, helping learners cross roads to and from school and also ensuring the safety of scholars and all passengers from point A to point B.
“The aim of the taxi services is to provide affordable and proper transport services that will ensure the safety of the passengers from the moment they get into the taxi to their drop-off point.
“It is about the taxi industry assisting in making roads safer.”
Mafalo explained that the project came as a result of a young girl from the Sekhukhune district who recently went missing after she hitched a ride from Sekhukhune to Polokwane.
She has still not been found.
“The taxi association is concerned by the number of people, mostly women, who go missing after hiking rides to their destinations.We have lost too many people because of this, which is why we have decided to take a stand.”
He said taxi operators would continue on the various roads for as long as it takes to get their message across.
“Passengers need to understand that communication is key. If for instance, you do not have enough taxi fare, the safe option would be to approach the driver and explain the situation.
“Drivers are also people, they understand the struggles people go through because they go through these themselves.”
Mafalo encouraged commuters by saying Operation Hlokomela is still better than risking a life by hitch-hiking.
“I hope communities will take part in this project and support the taxi associations.”