Ex­clu­sive: Taxi op­er­a­tors will post­pone protest

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Roy Cokayne

THE PLANNED protest in Jo­han­nes­burg and Pre­to­ria to­mor­row by thou­sands of taxi op­er­a­tors has been post­poned.

The protest was to tar­get six en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle fi­nancier Wes­bank and Nis­san South Africa’s head of­fice and man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Ross­lyn in Pre­to­ria, Old Mu­tual, the Mo­tor Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion (MFC)/Ned­bank and the SA Petroleum In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (Sapia).

The post­pone­ment fol­lows an agree­ment be­ing reached be­tween the SA Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco) and SA Taxi re­lated to com­plaints and griev­ances high­lighted by the Mass Taxi In­dus­try Protest Ac­tion Com­mit­tee, a splin­ter group with the taxi in­dus­try, about the to­tal ex­clu­sion of taxi op­er­a­tors from the in­dus­try’s value chain.

SA Taxi was one of more than 30 en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers, banks, in­sur­ance and fuel com­pa­nies and govern­ment en­ti­ties, that were to be tar­geted in coun­try­wide rolling protest ac­tion by the taxi in­dus­try.

This protest ac­tion com­menced late last month with a block­ade of Toy­ota South Africa’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Prospec­ton in Dur­ban that brought pro­duc­tion at the plant to a halt.

Nei­ther San­taco or SA Taxi were pre­pared to com­ment on the spe­cific de­tails of the agree­ment reached.

But they re­leased a joint state­ment that, among other things, in­di­cated that an an­nounce­ment about the agree­ment was ex­pected to be made to the taxi in­dus­try to­mor­row at a meet­ing sched­uled to take place at Em­per­ors Palace.

It con­firmed that the taxi in­dus­try, through its busi­ness arm Taxi Choice, had been in talks with SA Taxi for a num­ber of months to dis­cuss var­i­ous is­sues af­fect­ing the in­dus­try.

Th­ese dis­cus­sions en­com­passed in­no­va­tive ways of en­hanc­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of the in­dus­try, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of new prod­ucts that should con­trib­ute to a bet­ter com­mer­cial out­come for the taxi op­er­a­tors.

“The two en­ti­ties be­lieve that a win-win would be to part­ner in sourc­ing cheaper fund­ing. It is hoped that the govern­ment could also play a pos­i­tive role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing this,” it said. It added that 7 000 pre­vi­ous clients of SA Taxi would be as­sisted in clear­ing their names with credit bu­reaus, which would en­able them to source fi­nance and get back in busi­ness.

“SA Taxi’s deep in­vest­ment and fo­cus in the taxi value chain al­lows the busi­ness to share the ben­e­fits of this ef­fi­ciency with the taxi op­er­a­tor with­out di­lut­ing the busi­ness’ per­for­mance. We are hop­ing that up to 12 000 cur­rent op­er­a­tors will ben­e­fit from this col­lab­o­ra­tion, re­sult­ing in re­duced in­stal­ments.

“This process of fur­ther align­ing the in­ter­ests of the in­dus­try will fa­cil­i­tate trans­for­ma­tion by ben­e­fit­ing not only the taxi op­er­a­tors but also con­trib­ute to the sus­tain­abil­ity and prof­itabil­ity of the taxi in­dus­try,” the state­ment said.

MP Fil­tane, a spokesper­son for Mass Taxi In­dus­try Protest Ac­tion Com­mit­tee, told Busi- ness Re­port last month that the protest ac­tion was about rad­i­cal eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment and trans­for­ma­tion and was an in­stru­ment to bring tar­geted com­pa­nies to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

Fil­tane said the du­ra­tion of the protest ac­tion would de­pend on the re­sponse it re­ceived, but they could con­tinue in­def­i­nitely.

“We will tar­get ve­hi­cle com­pa­nies and fi­nan­cial and in­sur­ance in­sti­tu­tions who are killing the taxi in­dus­try,” he said.

High taxi ve­hi­cle prices and the steep es­ca­la­tion in taxi ve­hi­cles prices was the big­gest threat to the in­dus­try but the banks were “play­ing along and charg­ing the in­dus­try (in­ter­est rates) 18 per­cent above the prime rate” while in­sur­ance com­pa­nies were “also rip­ping us off”, Fil­tane said.

PHOTO: DUMISANI SIBEKO

Taxi strike mem­bers block­ade a street in Jo­han­nes­burg. A planned protest to­mor­row has been called off af­ter an agree­ment be­ing reached be­tween the in­volved par­ties.

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