Some days we love them, especially on those when you’re dropped off first. On other days we detest them for making use of the busiest route while we’re in a rush! – Either way, we do need them. With their alphabetical and numeric numbering on the rear windscreen, they’re hard to miss. And a driver’s relentless hooting welcomes only the best customer service as he stops right where you are to be of service. – But other drivers do not agree to this extend of customer service as they would often yell a few sweet words to taxi drivers. While others argue that it calls for a moment to pause and realise that some things aren’t as urgent as it may seem.
Anyone who has made use of a taxi will attest that it’s not as bad as it is often made out to be. Nonetheless, smooth driving is not what Namibian taxis are renowned for and you’ll likely get to your destination a tad bit later than planned. – Unless you’re lucky enough to be seated in a taxi of a self-acclaimed Formula 1 race participant you could make it to our Gondwana Offices right on time to pick up your Gondwana Card.
As you make yourself comfortable in the back or front seat and diligently strap yourself to safety, you might catch glimpses of the driver’s not-so-friendly facial expression as you fiddle with the seat belt: “Don’t you trust me?” he mutters as he ravs the engine and adjusts his racing cap.
A 20 or 30 minute journey should be long enough to catch up with the current “best of taxi music” without having to listen to the full tracks, as the driver will delight you with a medley of half-played songs featuring everything from Young T WokOngha’s Andiende to Bryan Adams’ Please Forgive Me.
When Meme Frieda hops in with her son, and she immediately commands the volume to be lowered so that all passengers can benefit from the reprimand directed at her son without the distraction of background music. – The son opts for peace and hops into another taxi at a nearby gas station.
Then it’s ‘pay day’ in Namibia and your trusted taxi drivers suddenly display an interesting behaviour: they rarely stop when one signals for their service. – They call the shots around this time of the month by being selective about clients and distances.
So, if you signal or shout for a stop and the driver acts as if you’re invisible or gives you the “I don’t know what you’re talking about” look, don’t despair: you’ll survive and another taxi will stop to take you to your destination.
Waiting for a taxi can be exhausting, but it is also a social gathering where strangers, relatives and friends communicate, laugh or mock each other when ignored by a taxi driver.
Here are a few helpful tips for those visiting soon and wanting to make use of taxis:
- Taxi fares vary, depending on the location of your destination, you will have to fork out N$ 10, 20 or 30.
- If you’re low on cash, negotiate before hopping into the taxi to avoid shouting battles over N$ 10. – Yes, it does happen!
- If you have “big notes” (N$ 100 and 200) only and need change, make this clear at pick up already, especially in the mornings. Otherwise you could waste precious time in search for change and Tate Petrus could just drop you at the gas station after ensuring he got paid.
- Know your destination – and if you don’t, ask your driver about it when you initially stop him.
- When you’ve reached your destination, check your seat in case anything slipped out of your pockets or bag, so you can save it before it finds another owner.
In any event, you might just make a new friend while waiting for your taxi. Or you might bump into your neighbour Vanessa and sweeten the waiting period with a chat or increase the odds of getting a taxi home earlier – because two passengers are worth more than one.
Have you ever made use of a taxi? What are some of your favourite memories? Let us know by sharing your story in the comment section below.
Author – I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.