Pretoria – Car companies, along with banks, insurers and fuel companies, are the target of a new taxi industry protest campaign that threatens disruptions in the form of blockades, and possible boycotts.
According to Business Report, the splinter group, known as the Mass Taxi Industry Protest Action Committee, says that taxi operators are totally excluded from the industry’s value chain.
Spokesman MF Filane said vehicle manufacturers, particularly Toyota, are to blame for the violence in the taxi industry, saying that high vehicle prices are what’s causing operators to fight over lucrative taxi routes.
Filane said that carmakers simply “imposed” high prices on the taxi industry without discussing these pricing structures with the taxi industry. “We have got no ownership of the taxi industry value chain. Whoever decides on the price of vehicles, we should also be involved.”
But has Toyota been unreasonable with its prices?
In January 2013 the price of a Toyota Sesfikile taxi was R303 000 for a 2.7 petrol model and R318 100 for the 2.5 diesel. Today, four and a half years later, the vehicle will cost you R401 300 in petrol form and R421 100 as a diesel. That works out to annual increases of around 6.5 percent for the petrol model, which is roughly comparable to the rate of inflation and it must be borne in mind that the rand is somewhat weaker, having depreciated from 10.3 yen per rand in 2013 to 8.5 yen today. Although the Sesfikile is built in South Africa, many of its components are imported and thus rand-dependent.
Yet could (and should) Toyota be selling its Sesfikile for less than R421 100? That is another matter that Toyota and the taxi industry will need to sort out between themselves.
Interest rates “not fair”
The protest campaign also points a finger at banks for allegedly charging the industry interest rates eight percent above prime, even when operators have clean records.
According to Filane, the protest action was about “radical economic empowerment and transformation”, aiming to bring targeted companies to the negotiation table. The campaign would take the form of blockades rather than protest marches.
According to Business Report, the SA National Taxi Council was unaware of any planned protest action, although its president Phillip Taaibosch agreed that the taxi industry had been excluded from the economy and said he would support taxi operators that wanted to stand up on these issues.