Cape Town — The South African Taxi Association has announced that it will introduce a racing league in an effort to capitalise on drivers’ diverse skill sets.
Spokesperson Grant Urismo said: “It is our hope that the Taxi Racing League (TRL) will allow our drivers to share their abilities with more than their passengers. We want to expand the typical edge-of-your-seat experience to TV audiences.”
The Ministry of Transport has welcomed the statement, saying it will allow South Africans to enjoy motorsport with a more local flavour. “We are currently in the process of defining circuits along the roads and highways of Cape Town and Johannesburg,” said ministry spokesperson Grand Prix Tshabalala.
“If successful, we will open the TRL to Pretoria, Durban and Bloemfontein.” The South African Broadcasting Corporation has acquired exclusive broadcast rights until 2024 with plans to air races every Sunday at 18h00.
The TRL will only be open to drivers with more than five years’ experience, and with a driving history of no less than 15 traffic violations. Races will require six drivers per event to offload 25 passengers within 20 minutes over a pre-defined course during peak hour traffic in the mornings and afternoons. Those who drive in the emergency lane or do not use indicators will have their cumulative racing time reduced. Pit crews will travel in taxis along with passengers and perform mechanical repairs or adjustments to vehicles at any time or place, depending on drivers’ instructions.
Commuters have expressed mixed reactions to the announcement, with some saying races in cities during their daily commutes will lead to higher risks of vehicle accidents.
“It’s bad enough already, dealing with taxis in the morning, now there’s this?” said Cape Town driver Rupert Kyalami-Van Tonder. “I don’t think my insurance covers this.”
“I can’t wait,” said another driver who preferred to remain anonymous. “I used to be a taxi driver and joined Uber last year, but something like this will make me go back. I keep getting one-star reviews.”
The South African Taxi Association has reached out to the Amaury Sport Organisation, co-ordinators of the Dakar Rally, to discuss collaborating on a Cape Town-to-Kenya endurance race for 2018. Additional variants of events, including a destruction derby, are also under consideration.