"The academy provides the taxi industry not just with a solution on solving the problem of behaviour change, but how we could resolve this through effective management systems."
Mthembu said the huge number of accidents involving taxis had prompted the industry to invest in the training and education of drivers.
"We intend to use the Santaco training academy to help the industry to drastically reduce road carnage," he said.
The taxi industry sought to enhance the requirements of the professional driver's permit, he added; a taxi driver would be required to get specific training before he or she could qualify for a PRDP.
The present PRDP system requires only an eye test and a check for a criminal record.
Mthembu said the taxi industry was now moving closer to formal employment structures for taxi associations.
"We will shortly embark on a driver registration campaign that will formulate a reliable database of all drivers working in the taxi industry."
He said the training programmes at the academy would help taxi drivers get jobs in other modes of the transport sector.
The academy's first intake, he added, would include 1000 women who would be trained as taxi drivers from January 2012. Their training would include customer care, communication and other related subjects aimed at providing a better service to commuters.
Vernon Billet, Santaco Western Cape chairman, who was in Welkom for the launch, said a similar academy was planned for Cape Town.
He said taxi operators had been calling for a taxi industry training centre for years.
"The immediate plan is to train 100 taxi drivers from each province at this new centre over the next few months," Billet said. "We are pushing hard for a similar campus to be opened in the Western Cape.'
Western Cape National Taxi Alliance spokesman Mvuyise Mente said a training programme was long overdue.
He said taxi operators were excited about the possibility of having a similar academy in the Western Cape.
"We need it and have been calling for it for years," Mente said. "The drivers won't be doing the training simply because they have to, they will be paying special attention because this is about the safety of passengers."
But both Mente and Billet said that the provincial government needed to come on board with a subsidy.
"Bus companies and Metrorail are subsidised, why don't they subsidise the taxi industry as well?" Mente asked.
Transport MEC Robin Carlisle welcomed the opening of the academy yesterday, and said he hoped that driver behaviour would be looked at.