Taxi protests tar­get Gaut­eng next

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Roy Cokayne

SIX EN­TI­TIES lo­cated in Jo­han­nes­burg and Ross­lyn in Pre­to­ria, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle fi­nancier Wes­bank and Nis­san South Africa, are to be tar­geted by taxi op­er­a­tors on Thurs­day as the in­dus­try’s protests against its to­tal ex­clu­sion from the in­dus­try’s value chain moves to Gaut­eng.

The protest fol­lows the block­ade of Toy­ota South Africa’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Prospec­ton in Dur­ban at the end of last month and the Mass Taxi In­dus­try Protest Ac­tion Com­mit­tee, the taxi in­dus­try splin­ter group that brought pro­duc­tion to a halt at Toy­ota SA, con­firm­ing it had a list of more than 30 en­ti­ties it planned to tar­get.

The tar­gets in­clude ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers, banks, in­sur­ance and fuel com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties.

MP Fil­tane, a spokesper­son for Mass Taxi In­dus­try Protest Ac­tion Com­mit­tee, con­firmed to Busi­ness Re­port yes­ter­day that en­ti­ties that would be tar­geted dur­ing Thurs­day’s protest ac­tion were Nis­san SA in Ross­lyn in Pre­to­ria, two Wes­bank of­fices in cen­tral Jo­han­nes­burg and Fair­lands, Old Mu­tual, the Mo­tor Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion (MPC)/Ned­bank, and the SA Pe­tro­leum In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (Sapia).

Fil­tane said ap­proval for the marches had “been taken care of” and thou­sands of taxi op­er­a­tors and taxi ve­hi­cles were ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in the protests.

Chris de Kock, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Wes­bank, said they had a so­phis­ti­cated pric­ing en­gine and charge prices via in­ter­est rates that were aligned to the risks they were tak­ing.

De Kock said they had an el­e­vated risk in the taxi in­dus­try, which at­tracted higher in­ter­est rates, and their taxi port­fo­lio over­all per­formed slightly worse than their other port­fo­lios. But he stressed that Wes­bank was cer­tainly not mak­ing ex­ces­sive prof­its on its taxi port­fo­lio and the re­turn was nor­mal com­pared to any of the other port­fo­lios it ran.

De Kock added that Wes­bank was only pre­pared to take on ac­cept­able risk and not bor­der­line reck­less lend­ing. He said a pro­por­tion of ap­pli­ca­tions were not ap­proved be­cause of the un­ac­cept­able risk and the in­ter­est it charged the taxi in­dus­try was rel­a­tive to the risk.

Mike Whit­field, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Nis­san Group Africa, said they were aware of the taxi group’s list of de­mands, but at this stage had not had any dis­cus­sions with or ap­proach from them.

He said al­though it was their right to protest, Nis­san would have hoped to have been ap­proached be­fore the group em­barked on any protest and that the protest would be a “nor­mal peace­ful protest”.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to com­ment on some­thing when they have not even ap­proached us,” he said.

Whit­field said Nis­san sold about 200 taxi ve­hi­cles a month and was there­fore rel­a­tively small com­pared to Toy­ota. Mass Taxi In­dus­try Protest Ac­tion Com­mit­tee has been in dis­cus­sions with Toy­ota SA ex­ec­u­tives since the block­ade, but is not pre­pared to com­ment about the sta­tus of th­ese dis­cus­sions.

It has also been in dis­cus­sions with SA Taxi, part of listed Trans­ac­tion Cap­i­tal and the largest fi­nancier of taxi ve­hi­cles in the coun­try. Fil­tane pre­vi­ously con­firmed SA Taxi was one of the tar­gets.

Thabisho Molelekwa, a spokesper­son for the SA Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil, told Busi­ness Re­port last month the griev­ances of the protesters in­cluded, among oth­ers, ve­hi­cle pric­ing and taxi fi­nanc­ing and de­mands for rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion.

A doc­u­ment ob­tained by Busi­ness Re­port out­lined what the protest group hoped to achieve.

One of the “im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity in­ter­ven­tions” was the cre­ation of 11 ded­i­cated taxi in­dus­try owned “taxi cen­tre deal­er­ships” through­out South Africa for the sale of ve­hi­cles to the in­dus­try, with all taxi sales di­rected through th­ese ded­i­cated deal­er­ships.

Fil­tane pre­vi­ously stressed that the du­ra­tion of the protest ac­tion would de­pend on the re­sponse re­ceived, but could con­tinue in­def­i­nitely.

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