Exclusive: Taxi operators will postpone protest
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.
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.