Taxi protests target Gauteng next
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.