Many shades to taxi business woes
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