Category: Commuter Stories

PODCAST #4: Framing paratransit reform in Africa with Nico McLachlan from ODA

Nico McLachlan is one of the leading transport practitioners in paratransit reform in Africa. As part of the Organisation Development Africa (ODA), he directs much of the shift from minibus taxi, dala dala and matatu type services to appropriately regulated public transport operations. These shifts could be hybrid services where scheduled and unscheduled transport are interfaced, or service transitions for regulators to reduce conflict and improve user experiences. In our discussion, he takes us through the various avenues toward regulating the paratransit sector, with deep focus on what is offered to the passenger. He highlights the role of demographics, the changing role of regulation, and the crucial future digitisation brings to the paratransit industry in Africa. Our conversation is hinged on sections from the seminal book ‘Paratransit in African Cities’ and the opening quote comes from Imraan Coovadia’s book ‘Institute for Taxi Poetry’. In his most recent article on the ODA blog, he highlights the transport futures we should expect after COVID-19. Our discussion takes the narrative one step further, focusing on the long-term effort needed to improve public transport for people “one-day” by starting with “day-one” as he put it.

We discuss the industry using a diagram found in a chapter in the Paratransit in African Cities book. Herrie Schalekamp‘s thesis presents a similar figure, which will help in today’s episode. Another interesting read is on some of the territorial issues around Paratransit, or the approaches to reform and improvement these could be of interest. You might also want to look at some of the blogs about the industry here with loads of resources too. The opening clip is from a situation in Gauteng, when a taxi driver was murdered and operators pleaded with owners for protection.

Nico discusses this diagram in the interview, and many others, but this one is probably the most relevant for the discussion. Source: Herrie Schalekamp, 2015

Another interesting read is on some of the territorial issues around Paratransit, or the approaches to reform and improvement these could be of interest. You might also want to look at some of the blogs about the industry here with loads of resources too. The opening clip is from a situation in Gauteng, when a taxi driver was murdered and operators pleaded with owners for protection.