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TAXI FOCUS


11 TAXI DRIVERS SHOT DEAD IN SOUTH AFRICA ON RETURN FROM FUNERAL


Gunmen have shot dead 11 taxi drivers returning to Johan- nesburg from the funeral of a colleague in Kwa-Zulu Natal. According to the Irish Times, the drivers, who were members of the Gauteng taxi association, were in a minibus driving along the R74 when unknown gunmen launched an ambush and opened fire. “There was a shooting at about 8pm last night. The vehicle was ambushed. There were 11 fatalities and four were seri- ously injured and are in hospital,” Kwa-Zulu Natal police spokesman Jay Naicker said. “There has been a lot of taxi violence in the area but we are still investigating who the perpetrators were.” Minibus taxis are the most popular form of transport in South Africa and violence is common by rival groups vying for dominance on profitable routes. In many parts of the country, minibus taxis are the only viable transport option, as they cover routes not serviced by buses or trains. Outside major cities, taxis are a also major source of income and employment. Yet since its inception in the 1980s, South Africa’s minibus taxi industry has been governed in large part by violence, with documented links to political assassinations and other forms of organised crime. The industry was officially born in 1987, when the apartheid government deregulated public transport, which had previ- ously been controlled by a central agency. By the end of the decade, the 16-seater minibus taxis, known as “combis,” were ubiquitous across the country, particularly in townships and rural “homelands” established for black people.


from Japan


WOMAN ARRESTED OVER £2,200 FARE EVASION FOR 8-HOUR TAXI RIDE IN JAPAN


On January 17, a Japanese taxi driver picked up a female passenger at Totsuka Station in the city of Yokohama at 2:30am local time. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, requested to be driven to the Tottori Sand Dunes. According to Google Maps, the distance is 646km and the estimated travelling time by car ranges from eight to nine- and-a-half hours at 2:30am. Despite the odd hour and long distance, the taxi driver did not question the woman. He also did not check if she had sufficient money to cover the hefty fare for travelling such a long distance. Upon arrival at her destination, the taxi driver informed her


FEBRUARY 2021


of the calculated fare, 236,690 yen (£2,200). However, she claimed that she had no money on her. The driver subsequently drove the woman to the local police station where she was arrested for suspicion of fraud. In addition to not having enough money, she also did not carry any identification documents. When the police inquired about her name and address, she claimed she did not know them. Based on her responses, she was believed to be mentally unsound. If that is the case, the taxi company is unlikely to demand compensation for the full fare.


from Taiwan


CABBIE IN TAIWAN GIVES FREE RIDES TO PEOPLE WHO CAN SING KARAOKE


A taxi driver in Taipei, Taiwan offers people free rides if they can sing karaoke for him during their journey. Tu Ching Liang has a successful YouTube channel where he posts performances of his customers. According to Times Now News, Karaoke taxis are quite pop- ular in Taiwan. Commuters are able to choose a ‘karaoke’ vehicle from the options on the taxi apps. However, it is only Liang who is filming his passengers and offering them free rides in return.


It all began as a game nearly ten years ago when he started offering his passengers a discount of they could guess a song’s name. He then set up cameras inside his cab and started asking people to sing karaoke as he drove them to their destination. “I’ve been driving a taxi for 27 years, giving money [as rewards for singing karaoke] for eight years, and filming videos for six years. I’ve filmed 10,000 videos,” Liang said. He said that many people are too embarrassed to sing, how- ever, he encourages them to sing anyway. “It’s to train their courage. To train them become a superstar,” he said. “Taiwanese love singing. So it’s normal there are many [taxis with karaoke]. But it’s hard to both film and sing, like what I do. And police can fine me for the speakers outside. That’s also difficult,” Liang added. Liang’s YouTube channel has more than 20,900 subscribers. His videos have racked up millions of views. “I’m an interna- tional influencer,” he joked while adding, “I was on TV shows from ten different countries.” He said that his dream passenger would be Ed Sheeran.


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