Angola introduces taxis for soccer tournament

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The Independent Travel

Tour operators on Wednesday welcomed plans for war-battered Angola's first regulated taxi service to be introduced next month ahead of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.

The government this week unveiled a system that will see hundreds of taxis made available in the four cities hosting the tournament - Luanda, Benguela, Lubango and Cabinda.

"This is a positive step for Angola because it must be one of the few places in the world which doesn't have taxis," said Paul Wesson, who runs Luanda-based travel agency EcoTur.

"It's another example of something that CAN 2010 is bringing to the country," he told AFP.

To date, public transport has been limited to overcrowded, slow and dilapidated minibuses that cram in 18 people at a time and are regularly involved in accidents.

Transport minister Augusto da Silva Tomas told AFP that 300 five-seater cars would be sent into the four cities next month and 200 were due next year in the public-private partnership.

"They are white and will be marked as taxis and look like taxis in any other part of the world," the minister said.

Tariffs were still to be decided but would be "accessible", he said.

"This is definitely a good move," said Jim Louth of Undiscovered Destinations, a travel company that runs trips to Angola from Britain.

"One of the main obstacles for tourists going to Angola at the moment is transport and the high cost of hiring private cars. Having a taxi service will reduce those costs," he said.

Sixteen nations are participating in the January 10-31 tournament in Angola, which is slowly recovering from a devastating 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.