Taxis... Taxis . . . Taxis!

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Things have changed so much in Botswana since I was here 15 years ago. In our village of Shakawe, there were very few private vehicles, as most were government vehicles. We were often called upon to carry sick people to the hospital/clinic and gave rides to our neighbors when we drove to town.

Now in our village of Kazungula, we daily pass the private taxis on our roads. These taxis make up a good percentage of the traffic in Kasane and Kazungula. So much so, that in Kasane, the government has built them a nice central taxi rank with shaded waiting areas for the passengers. In a hot country like Botswana, any shade is appreciated!

Since Kazungula has no grocery store, bank, post office or general clothing store, the only choice is to drive, if you have a car, or catch a taxi to Kasane. In the evenings, when we come home, the road is full of taxis depositing people at their homes, many with bags of groceries or other goods only available in Kasane.

The Batswana are a people who travel frequently and if they are going to Zambia or Zimbabwe, the quickest way to the border is to catch a taxi. It is very convenient not to have to carry suitcases that far.

As there are so many taxis, some drivers try to distinguish their vehicle by painting a name or slogan on it. The most interesting so far that I have seen is “Killer” with a stuffed monkey tied across the front grill to look like road kill.

Currently, the trend is to enhance the taxi by placing large plush pillows in the back window box; however, that makes rear viewing difficult. Whatever it takes to make the vehicle memorable is what is important as hopefully next time the passenger will remember that taxi and use it again.

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