The South African government has initiated a process to formalise and regulate the country’s large, yet informal minibus taxi industry, with a view to making it viable and free of violence.

The government envisions the industry being restructured “along legally recognised business units” that pay corporate tax and comply with labour laws. Formalisation will eventually pave the way for taxi commuters to benefit from public transport subsidies, resulting in cheaper fares.

The effort, if it succeeds, will resolve the anomaly whereby the government relies on the informal transport sector to provide a key public transport service. Minibus taxis are the preferred mode of transport for most South Africans because they are more efficient and more widely available than buses and trains.

Having studied the various approaches to the industry over the decades, I believe its integration into the country’s public transport plans is long overdue.