Many shades to taxi busi­ness woes

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Muham­mad Omar

WITH the re­cent protest in Prospec­ton in Dur­ban by mem­bers of the taxi in­dus­try, one needs a lit­tle back­ground.

The com­muter taxi in­dus­try evolved from Valiants, to buses, to the taxis.

Trains served a prom­i­nent role in the 1970s and early 80s but this fiz­zled out in terms of com­muter vol­umes.

Given the poor track record with ef­fi­cient, cost ef­fec­tive, sub­sidised, reg­u­lated pub­lic trans­port and rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion, the buses and trains lit­er­ally went off the road and tracks.

The taxi in­dus­try filled this void rapidly and cheaply so much so that this is a high con­trib­u­tor to state cof­fers via levies and VAT. Com­pare this to trains and see how un­fair the sit­u­a­tion is against taxis.

In the event of a col­li­sion the taxi driver is al­ways seen as wrong and a lot of col­li­sions are fa­tal.

Driv­ers work un­der ex­treme pres­sure from bosses, com­muters and po­lice of­fi­cials.

Fur­ther down­time, ei­ther me­chan­i­cal or col­li­sion, means no busi­ness and no rev­enue. In­stal­ments have to be paid.

Ag­gra­vat­ing this is that taxis are charged higher fi­nance rates, higher in­sur­ance and face end­less ha­rass­ment from traf­fic of­fi­cials.

En­force­ment is of­ten se­lec­tive, dis­crim­i­na­tory and done at the worst of times.

This is where the real trou­ble is and rea­son for the protest ac­tion. Maybe VAT on com­muter taxis should be zero rated. It is high time all pub­lic trans­port was treated on the same foot­ing.

Sub­si­dies should be based on us­age and pas­sen­ger vol­umes rather than pref­er­ences for state favoured trains, buses and the Bus Rapid Tran­sit sys­tem (which will be a fail­ure).

Be thank­ful for your com­muter taxis that by and large move pas­sen­gers safely and cost ef­fec­tively. Dur­ban North

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