Taxi in­dus­try’s new tar­gets

Shop­ping malls, fuel de­pots

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Roy Cokayne

SHOP­PING malls, some stand­alone re­tail stores and fuel de­pots and fill­ing sta­tions are to be tar­geted by the taxi in­dus­try in the next phases of its rolling mass protest ac­tion.

How­ever, dates have not yet been set for these planned protests. In­formed sources in the taxi in­dus­try aligned with the Mass Taxi In­dus­try Protest Ac­tion Com­mit­tee, con­firmed that let­ters had been sent last week to var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions and com­pa­nies ad­vis­ing them of the planned protests.

The com­mit­tee, a splin­ter group of the SA Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco), or­gan­ised the block­ade at Toy­ota South Africa’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Prospec­ton in Dur­ban in May and last month’s protests in Jo­han­nes­burg and Midrand.

The let­ters were sent to the SA Prop­erty Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (Sapoa), SA Coun­cil of Shop­ping Cen­tre’s (SACSC) and SA Petroleum In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (Sapia) and some in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies, such as Pick n Pay and Makro.

The sources said some mall own­ers did not al­low taxis on to their precincts, de­spite taxis bring­ing cus­tomers to malls.

Griev­ances with the fuel in­dus­try in­cluded that the taxi in­dus­try was not el­i­gi­ble to get a dis­count on fuel and was pro­hib­ited from ob­tain­ing li­cences to es­tab­lish and op­er­ate fuel fill­ing sta­tions at taxi ranks.

The sources said they would be tar­get­ing Sapia, fuel de­pots and fill­ing sta­tions coun­try­wide in planned fu­ture protest ac­tion. “We want Sapia to be­come a part­ner with the taxi in­dus­try in talk­ing to the gov­ern­ment. A com­pany with a small group of buses can get dis­count on fuel by law, but the taxi in­dus­try can­not.

“In terms of the present law, if you use 100 000 litres of fuel a month your are en­ti­tled to get a spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion and are able to pur­chase fuel at a user site fa­cil­ity that en­tirely cuts out the mid­dle man.

“The in­dus­try could do that at ranks and al­low taxi op­er­a­tors to get a 40c a litre dis­count on fuel that they can pass on to their cus­tomers.

“But it has to be one le­gal en­tity and taxi op­er­a­tors are in­de­pen­dent en­ti­ties. In­di­vid­u­als do not qual­ify. It’s a per­fect ex­am­ple of ma­nip­u­la­tion, be­cause of the way the law is writ­ten and to block that from hap­pen­ing,” they said.

The sources added that it was also not per­mis­si­ble to es­tab­lish a new fill­ing sta­tion within 3km of an ex­ist­ing fill­ing sta­tion, which was an is­sue.

Sapia ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Avhap­fani Tshi­fu­laro con­firmed it had re­ceived a let­ter from the taxi in­dus­try and in­di­cated that they would be en­gag­ing the in­dus­try to try and un­der­stand how Sapia fit­ted into their planned protests.

“They might be tar­get­ing the wrong peo­ple. We have got noth­ing to do with the place­ment of ser­vice sta­tions,” he said.

At­tempts to get com­ment from the Sapoa, SACSC and Makro were un­suc­cess­ful.

David North, the group ex­ec­u­tive, strat­egy and cor­po­rate af­fairs at Pick n Pay, said the taxi in­dus­try played an im­por­tant role in get­ting cus­tomers to their stores and most of their stand-alone stores were sit­u­ated on ma­jor routes in close prox­im­ity to taxi ranks.

In malls, land­lords made sep­a­rate agree­ments with the taxi in­dus­try on where ranks should best be lo­cated, he said.

Listed re­tail fo­cused prop­erty funds Vuk­ile and Hyprop were both un­aware of and puz­zled by the planned protest ac­tion. Lau­rence Rapp, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Vuk­ile, said that given the de­mo­graph­ics of the cen­tres Vuk­ile owned, it was very in­volved with the taxi in­dus­try and all their malls had taxi ranks on site.

“We recog­nise the role of the taxi in­dus­try and go out of our way to put in taxi ranks and make them as in­te­grated as pos­si­ble with the shop­ping cen­tre.

“They are a key part of our plan­ning and in­vest­ment de­ci­sions and the per­for­mance of our cen­tres,” he said.

Pi­eter Prinsloo, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hyprop, said they worked well with the taxi in­dus­try and tried, as best they could, to ac­com­mo­date taxi op­er­a­tors at their cen­tres.

“At a num­ber of our malls, such as Clear­wa­ter, The Glen and Wood­lands Boule­vard, we have spe­cific taxi fa­cil­i­ties. I’m sur­prised to hear there is un­hap­pi­ness with shop­ping malls,” he said.

PHOTO: SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI

The pre­vi­ous Gaut­eng taxi strike in Midrand, Jo­han­nes­burg. Taxi own­ers ap­par­ently had hi­jacked trucks and block­aded all the N1 Al­lan­dale off and on ramps, leav­ing mo­torists stranded with their cars.

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