The KZN Transport Department is involving the taxi industry in road safety to help reduce the high rate of road deaths in the country. The province has invested R1,2-million in the project to “change the mindsets of taxi operators”.

The KwaZulu Transport Department is involving the taxi industry in road safety to help reduce the high rate of road deaths in the country.

According to , KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC S’bu Ndebele said his department had launched a pilot project in Nquthu earlier this year in which 150 taxi drivers and 150 taxi owners received training in road safety and business development management skills.

Ndebele was speaking at Malangeni Sports Ground on Tuesday during a memorial service for 13 people, mostly students, who died in a crash between two taxis near Umzinto in the province last Wednesday.

Twenty-four people were also injured in the accident. The two taxi drivers were allegedly involved in a game, in which two vehicles going in opposite directions pretend to be crashing head-on but, before they crash, the drivers swerve back to their lanes and proceed with their journey. This practice is called “UkuGeyima”, which means gaming in Zulu. However, last week one of the drivers failed to make it back to his lane, resulting in the horrific accident.

“Through this scheme, we want to change the mindset of some of our taxi operators who still do not value the lives of their customers,” said Ndebele. He said the department had invested R1,2-million in the project, which is the first of its kind in the country.

The MEC said the project wouldl be extended to other regions of KZN and possibly other provinces.

Meanwhile, departmental spokesperson Logan Maistry said a suspect had been arrested in connection with the crash.

He said the suspect had appeared in the Umzinto Magistrate’s Court on Monday and faced 13 counts of culpable homicide. “The suspect was remanded in custody to appear again on May 13 to make a bail application,” said Maistry.