As lifestyle bloggers reppin’ one of Botswana’s biggest online platforms #BotswanaUnplugged, we often find it refreshing and amusing to jump into any of the ever vexing public transport (be it a taxi, mini bus or combi) and head out and about our daily businesses. It is often said, for one to feel therapeutically revitalized all they need to do is to sometimes travel to the unknown, let loose and rebuild their thoughts. Like Erol Ozan said, in relation to understanding every city that one travels to, “you can’t understand a city without using its public transportation system.”
In Gaborone, Botswana’s eclectic capital city, traveling by public transport will introduce one to the two most revered individuals of the ever bustling city’s bus rank – RraBuka and OyaKae, otherwise known as Taxi Marshals. Among the many responsibilities of the taxi marshal is to have a firm understanding of the difference between a Taxi, Bus, Combi or Cab so as to ensure that only those licensed by the Department of Road Transport and Safety (DRTS) access the rank, as well as an understanding of the conditions, criteria and regulations regarding the licensing of drivers and vehicles with the Licensing Authority.
Furthermore, these marshals are responsible for a queuing system on the rank and match passenger numbers to each public transport, they have an understanding of the local taxi tariff in order to provide advice to the general public, ensure that lone females, vulnerable persons or persons accompanied by children are adequately supervised and additionally prevent conflicts from arising on the rank and between the general public and taxi drivers by ensuring order and providing conflict management. These two individuals are truly dignified and in charge of all the affairs of the bus rank.
While their daily duties many appear synonymous, Rrabuka takes care of the queues and allocate time slots to each and every combi or taxi that leaves or enters the rank, and gets his remuneration from the various public transport drivers, while Oyakae on the other hand knows what bus or taxi is leaving what time and to where, and often times will ask to hold onto your luggage whilst you catch a breadth ahead of your destination albeit for a small fee. The bustling Gaborone Bus Rank is not a place for the faint-hearted. It’s highly paced, heterogeneous, and often stinks to high Heavens and this coupled with the fact that each person is chasing their own hustles does not help the undesirable situation either.
The bus rank is always teeming with a plethora of undesirable elements; from the mean-looking lady selling sweets, edibles or airtime to the cogent men selling ‘warm’ pies or quarter chicken and chips inside the long-distance buses – everyone outchea is trying to make GWAP! In between all this mean hustle, there’s always a con artist or pickpocket desperado trying to trick the naïve and susceptible citizens especially those who are new in the city.
You see, the Gaborone Bus Rank has become an apiary of activities be it legal or illegal, and it’s all in the name of trying to feed oneself and in turn support their extended families. Out here, the hustle is real, and the meek often get trampled in the ‘survival of the fittest’ mission. The Botswana informal sector is at its peak here. You want a brand new or second-hand mobile phone you will get, you want to do FOREX albeit illegally, you’re welcome too. There’s always something for everyone here – a true attestation of real commerce.
However, in order to understand the daily hustles and commercial value of the audacious Rrabuka, #BotswanaUnplugged took to the Gaborone Bus Rank where we discovered that the taxi marshal gets P4.00 a day from every combi or taxi in his route, say Broadhurst Route 2 or Gaborone West Route 2. Our basic comprehension is that Gaborone West Route 2 has a minimum of 70 combis and averagely from this number Rabuka will each day pocket a minimum of P280.00, which will averagely translate to around P8, 680 on a full month, a worthwhile remuneration which outshines a few undergraduate white colour jobs.
On the other hand, Oyakae who often become acquainted and assigned to say a bus going to Francistown averagely gets at least P100 a day and because they often maneuver in between different owners, one individual could be assisting several routes such Selibe-Phikwe, Tsabong and Serowe among others, and in that case they could pocket around P300 a day, which in a month totals around P9, 000 a month, a far much better salary than that of an entrant degree holder.
These guys earn far much better than the set government salary scales, be it soldiers at the rank of corporal, teachers, prison warders, bank tellers and many other professions. Don’t be fooled or deceived by their often unkempt or inferior working environs these individuals make a killing out of our indolence. And to imagine they’re not even taxed or charged any levies even make it far reaching. If one was to round up the two individuals’ figures annually, you’d be shocked to discover that Rabuka and Oyakae gross between P100, 800.00 – P108, 000. 00, a varying figure depending on which route one is in as well as the amount of public transport that make the route.
According to tax expert, Boago Ratshoswane of GreatAnt & Tax360, these two individuals are expected to pay tax as their annual returns are over the stipulated amount.”The Tax Administration System do not have strict policies and controls that can make sure such people pay tax since it’s very difficult to trace their earnings. Firstly they are paid cash and secondly they are mostly unbanked. The Income Tax Act requires everyone earning or making P36 000. 00 per annum to pay tax, it doesn’t matter whether it’s in the formal or informal sector of the economy. All people earning P36, 000.00 should register for and pay tax. Obviously most if not all of these individuals run this businesses as individuals and not as companies therefore they have to register as individual tax payers and submit ITA 20 Tax Return and show all earnings of the tax year from July 1st to June 30th annually to the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) between July 1st and September 30th.”