News / Africa

Autorickshaws Venture into Car-Crazy Johannesburg

Autorickshaws much like these in central Hyderabad, India, are scheduled for a February 2013 pilot-program launch in the trendy Melville suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, March 6, 2012.
Autorickshaws much like these in central Hyderabad, India, are scheduled for a February 2013 pilot-program launch in the trendy Melville suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, March 6, 2012.
Anita Powell
Car-crazy Johannesburg is about to get its first fleet of auto-rickshaws, the distinctive three-wheelers that dominate streets of the Indian subcontinent.

For residents of South Africa’s most populous city, the cart-like, combustion-engine pedicabs carry the promise of an economical, eco-friendly solution to urban transportation demands. With more than 900,000 cars for its 3.8-million inhabitants, Johannesburg, says a 2010 report by the International Association of Public Transport, boasts the continent’s highest vehicles-to-people ratio.
 
According to Rina Jeyakumar, co-founder of e-Tuk Tuk, the group leading the green-transit initiative, the low-emission, tiny 3-passenger vehicles promote an environment where some of those drivers can leave their cars at home.
 
“[It means] less congestion, increased safety, less drinking and driving on the road, et cetera,” she says, describing it as an affordable alternative for the millions who rely on public transportation.
 
Slated for a February 2013 launch in the city’s trendy Melville suburb — home to many of the University of Johannesburg’s 30,000 students — the vehicles will stick to a five-kilometer range and cater mainly to the central enclave’s targeted clientele of academics, journalists and creative types.
 
Imported from Indian automaker Bajaj for $4,000 each, the vehicles, restricted to speeds of 40 kilometers per hour, will stick to smaller streets that connect key destinations and mass-transit hubs.
 
Although Jeyakumar’s team is still working to establish fares, which are expected to be comparable to other public-transit options, she says her group is hoping to see the initiative expand to neighboring regions.
 
Form, function and performance (sort of)
 
What tuk-tuks lack in speed is made up for with the riding experience.

“It’s like being on a safari in the middle of Jo’burg,” says e-Tuk Tuk co-founder Deon Fourie, explaining that the open-air, windowless vehicles afford passengers an immediate integration with the passing landscape.

In a way, he’s right. After a 20-minute ride on the tuk-tuk, one understands how South Africa’s exotic animals feel: Normally stoic inner-city residents stop, gawk, wave, honk and even take photos of the curious car.
 
Along Melville’s main drag, some restaurant-goers hold their beers aloft as the tuk-tuk passes.

At an auto shop in the historically South Asian suburb of Mayfair, 25-year-old Louis Groenwald sneers at the little red vehicle as he makes a few custom modifications to his Mazda sports car.

“I’ve seen it but I don’t like it,” he says. “There’s no doors to it… There’s no style.”

Others, however, appear to welcome the newcomer.
 
One taxi driver named Thabo brings his 3-year-old son over to take a look. He points proudly to his blue Toyota van, saying that he thinks the two vehicles can co-exist.

“Oh, nice, very nice this thing. I like it,” he exclaims. “It’s very nice and it’s very small, this thing.”
 
Like similar auto-rickshaw initiatives that have found success in Kenya, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, the e-Tuk Tuk team hopes to carve out its own (small) space, and see its South African fleet of three vehicles expand in both number and efficiency.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid