Recent headlines and security discussions have placed a greater focus on violence between the metered taxi industry and Uber as well as a number of reported incidents where criminals have followed unsuspecting travellers from OR Tambo International Airport before robbing them when they arrive at their residence or hotel.
“This is becoming ever more common, largely because of how easy it is to identify and follow travellers from the point of arrival as they clear customs. The most recent case having taken place on Sunday, 18 June 2017 when two tourists were shot during an armed robbery after their taxi was followed from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to their hotel in Morningside,” says Jared Higgins, CEO of Secure Drive, a leading secure transportation provider.
The tourists were robbed of their luggage and, in the struggle both tourists were injured and remain in a critical condition.
Higgins notes that travellers who may be perceived to have high-value belongings or who are potentially more vulnerable to crime due to their unfamiliarity with their surroundings - such as foreign corporate executives and international tourists - should opt for a safer alternative to the regular taxi or pick-up service.
Higgins says that while these situations are often random, criminals can generally identify people who are not local. “Whether they have a foreign accent, dress in designer labels, have a large quantity of luggage or simply seem to be unfamiliar with their surroundings, standing out from the crowd puts foreign business and holiday travellers at risk of this kind of criminal activity,” he explains.
Criminals specifically target travellers arriving from African countries as they more often than not, travel with US dollars, unlike travellers from Europe or the United States where credit cards are more prevalent.
While personal taxi and pick-up services have grown in popularity and affordability in recent years, Higgins suggests that those unfamiliar with the environment they may be travelling in should place safety as their highest priority, particularly during the planning stages, to ensure they have sufficient time to have all their questions answered before they arrive.
“For corporate travellers, high net-worth individuals, public personalities and tourists, a good online rating or review may sway them to select an average taxi service. However, it is important to consider that these ratings are subjective and what one person may perceive to be good service may not meet your unique requirements.”
“For corporates in particular, it would be considered extremely reckless to expect staff to utilise transport options that haven’t been vetted from a safety perspective. Ultimately, it is an organisation’s duty to ensure the safety of staff when travelling for business and therefore investing in the appropriate vendor services.”
“Our Secure Drive service offers a safe mode of transportation for those who need to arrive at their destination timeously and safely,” Higgins says.
“Unlike regular taxi and pick-up services, our drivers are trained to mitigate risks, they are familiar with the most efficient and safest routes and have regular communication with our 24-hour Security Research and Communication centre, who proactively monitor all our vehicles. Thoroughly vetted, trained and experienced, Secure Drive staff will always arrive at the pick-up location early as an additional safety precaution.”
Higgins concludes that travellers need not take unnecessary risks when entering a foreign country. “Why risk it when there are specialists in the field who can put your mind at ease and get you to where you need to go, safely.”