Labour conditions and remuneration
Regrettably, employment conditions in the IPT sector are characterised by low and uncertain levels of income, as well limited long-term welfare options. Nevertheless, the value of these jobs should not be underestimated in fragile economies where families are absolutely reliant on the income for the most basic needs. This employment situation, and the effects of ‘target’ and commission based payment approaches, impacts directly upon the behaviour of drivers as they compete for passengers, resulting in inefficient and dangerous practices.
Several studies have reported ubiquitous informal employment conditions in the IPT sector, which are often exploitative in nature, and have identified three main forms of driver remuneration. It is thought that driver payment is most commonly based on a ‘target system’ in which drivers keep the fare revenue that is left, once fuel, vehicle rental costs and other costs are deducted. A second form, considered to be less common, involves the payment of a commission based upon an agreed portion of weekly farebox revenue. And finally, there are cases of where fixed salaries are paid, typically with an additional ridership bonus incentive, as is the case of Transport Management Companies (TMCs) in Nairobi.
More specific examples that can be drawn from the literature on this subject include the following:
Research published in 2002 examined exploitative labour relations amongst daladala minibus businesses in Dar es Salaam, revealing that 83% of respondents were employed casually, without any recorded agreement on wages or conditions of service and remunerated on the basis of the target system. The ability of vehicle crews to negotiate the daily target was found to be severely curtailed, due to high levels of prevailing unemployment and labour turnover.
Eight months of ethnographic fieldwork to study the experiences and micropolitics of danfo minibus crews in Lagos, revealed that working conditions were both insecure and dangerous.
Interviews with matatu business owners in Nairobi have shown that that exploitative and insecure labour conditions have a negative impact on regulatory compliance (in relation to operating permissions and traffic laws).
Comparison of situations and perspectives from the TRANSITIONS cities
Information on the driver wage practices in each city, and the role of IPT unions in representing drivers, were introduced at Section 4.3 (Business and financial models) and are summarised in Table 5. In Cape Town, Freetown and Maputo, the target-based system of remuneration is in place (with an element of commission in the latter city), while in Accra and Kumasi driver salaries are based on commission.
During the TRANSITIONS workshops the project gained further insights into the work of the Unions, their primary concerns and the types of initiatives they take to support drivers and crew. In one working group discussion, a union representative expressed concern about a public authority initiative to provide larger buses, which could result in job losses amongst the large number of minibus drivers.
In the case of Accra, TRANSITIONS project members visited a central terminal and heard of the Unions efforts to purchase a plot of land where its drivers could, over time, build their own houses. In both Accra and Kumasi, the unions play a role in providing financial support to members in case of illness or injuries. The unions rely on the payment of small fees in order to provide these social benefits, which are also used for other priorities including the management of terminals and ranks, as well as night-time security, as is the case in Cape Town.
Employment of women in the sector – Creation of employment opportunities for women in the transport sector is considered important to reduce so-called ‘gender blindness’, leading to the provision of services that are more sensitive to the needs and concerns of women passengers (see Section 3.5 for information on sexual harassment problems). Stakeholder interviews undertaken in the case cities therefore sought to gain an indication of the proportion of women employed in the industry. The overwhelming response was that in most cities, there is only a very small number of women involved in IPT sector jobs, such as working as crew on vehicles or in administrational roles within Unions. One exception is that of Freetown, where women are employed in executive positions (National Treasurer, National Finance Secretary) as well as driving IPT vehicles. Unfortunately, this greater representation of women in the workforce is due to the civil war, rather than a positive policy initiative, as necessity resulted in women taking on jobs that would previously have been undertaken by men.
Main findings and messages
Working conditions in the sector are quite similar across TRANSITIONS cities, indicating that public authority initiatives to professionalise the sector and improve working conditions are so far limited in number, reach and scale.
Unions and associations do seek to provide housing and social support for their workers, but their financial capacity to deliver this is limited, when we consider that their fees are only one of a number of outgoings that a driver needs to pay for, before they can take a salary.
With the exception of Freetown, then women employment in the IPT sector is very limited. Changing this dynamic would help contribute towards more gender sensitive operational practices in the industry, as part of a wider drive towards professionalisation and improved service provision.
Boateng, F.G., 2020. “Indiscipline” in context: a political-economic grounding for dangerous driving behaviors among tro-tro drivers in Ghana. Humanity Social Science Community 7, 8.
UN Women / World Bank Gender Equality in Transportation Online course - https://olc.worldbank.org/content/gender-equality-transportation-self-paced
26. Rizzo (2002) Being taken for a ride: privatisation of the Dar es Salaam transport system 1983–1998. J. Mod. Afr. Stud. 40, 133–157. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022278X01003846.
27. Agbiboa, D.E., 2016. ‘No condition is permanent’: Informal transport workers and labour precarity in Africa’s largest city. International Journal Urban Regional 40, 936–957. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.12440. AND Agbiboa, D.E., 2020. Between cooperation and conflict: the national union of road transport workers in Lagos, Nigeria. Crime Law Social Change 73, 605–622. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-019-09878-x.
28. Ommeh, M., McCormick, D., Mitullah, W., Orero, R., Chitere, P., 2013. Paratransit labour and regulatory compliance.