Friday 6 July 2007

A free lesson for combi drivers

This week I’ve worked hard to develop some educational materials for combi drivers. So many of us are forced to use combis that I thought a little something for free would help them improve their customer and social service skills. Well I can hope can’t I?

Firstly a simple fact. The roads do not belong to combi drivers. There’s a simple reason that roads are called “public roads”. It’s because they belong to the public, not just combi drivers. OK, they probably belong to the government or the various city and town councils but who do THEY belong to? Us. We pay the taxes, we elect the MPs and councillors so as far I’m concerned the roads belong to the entire community, not just a small psychopathic section of the community.

So why don’t you try something new. Respect the other road users that have at least as much of a right to use the roads as you do?

Now some technical educational details.

Have you noticed those cute, brightly coloured things on the corners of your vehicles? They flash if you click those stalks next to the steering wheel. In theory they should be yellow but some of you have white ones and some of you don’t have any at all. They’re called “indicators”. Try using them occasionally.

They can be used (this is very clever actually) to “indicate” the direction you are about to take. Not the direction you took some while ago, not the direction you are taking right now but the direction you are GOING to take. I suppose some of you might be asking yourself “Why would I want to do that?” The reason is quite simple. It’s to give other road users (yes those irritating people who are in your way) an idea of what direction you are about to take so they know and can avoid being hit by you. Yes, by you. Go on, ask yourself. When was the last time someone hit a combi?

Try watching the road ahead of you. Not the backside of the girl you just passed, no matter how appealing it might be. That way you might avoid crashing into the car in front of you that has stopped to turn right. That way you might avoid nearly killing a colleague of mine who ended up trapped between your special collapsible seats.

OK, more on combi drivers.

[Try saying that last line out loud. Yes, I know it’s childish but it amuses me.]

Did you know that Section 114 of the Road Traffic Act states that “No person shall, for the purpose of inviting or obtaining passengers for any public service vehicle, make any noise or sound any instrument, or do anything which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, inconvenience or danger to the public.”

So stop tooting every time you come close to a combi stop OK?

And what about your recent strike? I know I’m not the only one who thought this was just the most nonsensical, un-business-like, self-indulgent and verging-on-the-criminal exercise I think we’ve seen on our roads in ages. You didn’t like the fact that proper buses were dropping fare-paying passengers off at convenient locations? You didn’t like it that a section of the transport industry that doesn’t even slightly compete with you were delivering a good service to their customers? And then you start intimidating good people in cars who went to pick up their friends, neighbours and colleagues? Get a grip OK?

OK, so perhaps I should be more positive, constructive and less critical. I can do it, I know.

I want to appeal to the better nature of combi drivers. I’m sure they have one, somewhere.

Adam Smith, the great economist once wrote: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

I’m think we should appeal to the enlightened self-interest of combi drivers. It’s actually in their interests to start behaving responsibly on the roads. That way other road users might be more tolerant of their occasional mistakes, more likely to be generous to them on the roads and perhaps even more likely to use their services.

I’m sure we all want to see combi drivers making an honest living by working hard and getting people around to and from their homes, offices and shops. But they should take a lesson from the banks, restaurants and most supermarkets. You do this best when you show respect for your customers and the community at large. When you start behaving like responsible, grown-up citizens.

This week’s stars!

  • Kgomotso Baleseng, David “Day” Nkwe and Isaih "Disco" Gobuamang both from the Ministry of Finance who apparently are all is hard working, dependable and trustworthy.
  • Kabelo “KB” Johannes from Security Systems who we’re told is “trustworthy, hard working, loyal, a sweet person, humble and down to earth”.
  • In the week when I’m having a go at combi drivers it’s wonderful to celebrate a taxi driver, Allen Nthahelang Kerutwang, who is “extremely helpful, cheerful and friendly and treats customers with respect”. See, it CAN be done.
  • Doreen Modise, from Air Botswana who is “helpful, cheerful, courteous and a very pleasant person”.

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