The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), the country’s largest public transport association, is entering the ride-hailing market it once fiercely opposed. SANTACO-registered metered taxi drivers can now offer e-hailing services through platforms like Shuma Yo!Taxi, and Teksi Ride.
SANTACO aims to take on dominant international ride-hailing players like Uber and Bolt in South Africa. After years of conflict with such platforms, SANTACO has formed partnerships with local South African services following extensive due diligence.
Each local partner has geographical strengths, ensuring SANTACO members nationwide can find rides. For example, Shuma dominates in Durban while Yo!Taxi thrives in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Sibongeseni Shange, SANTACO’s deputy chairperson, said technology is integral to modern public transport, hence the association’s move into ride-hailing. SANTACO also cites safety and accountability advantages over current dominant platforms.
One partner, Teksi Ride, was founded in 2020 and allows SANTACO-registered drivers to sign up and find passengers. It charges R8.50 per kilometre with a 20% commission. Teksi vets drivers and passengers for safety and offers panic buttons and a 24-hour call center.
Founder Prince Pirikisi said current ride-hailing safety measures are too easy to bypass. Teksi’s affiliation with SANTACO enables cooperation with authorities if issues arise.
By law, ride-hailing firms in South Africa must have operator licenses that they lease to platform drivers. But most drivers currently lack licenses, which SANTACO has protested as illegal. Its ride-hailing entry means focusing on healthy competition.
Shange claims many drivers on other platforms have already signed up for SANTACO’s services. Member perks like insurance and healthcare are also incentives over incumbent platforms.
SANTACO ride-hailing aims to shift the landscape from years of conflict. Despite initially being lauded for affordability and convenience, major e-hailing firms have faced backlash for operating illegally and undercutting traditional taxis. Drivers also protest high commissions.
SANTACO, too, has been accused of mafia-like bullying of competitors. Its transition into direct rivalry with platforms it once wanted banned will be an interesting next chapter in South Africa’s ride-hailing market evolution.
By leveraging its scale and industry clout to enter ride-hailing, SANTACO seeks to reinvent the sector to benefit its drivers through competitive local offerings. The association’s controversial history adds intrigue as it tries to disrupt the status quo it has long fought against.