An offer by South African Taxi Finance to reduce the interest on the financing of Toyota Quantum minibus taxis by 3% has been rejected by the majority of taxi owners aligned to the South African National Taxi Association‚ who say this is not enough.
Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch and the association’s senior leadership said they would renegotiate with SA Taxi Finance to try to resolve the issue‚ failing which they would embark on a national strike on July 12.
Speaking inside the conference hall at Emperors Palace‚ east of Johannesburg‚ on Thursday afternoon‚ Taaibosch appealed to provincial structures of the association to go back to the drawing board and come up with proposals on how to address the price issue.
A Quantum minibus now costs at least R450‚000 compared to R220‚000 in 2010.
“We will come back to you and give you what the mandate is and my request to you as you are leaving here‚ because time is very limited‚ we must go back to our provincial structures and make proposals to our provinces and then go back to the national office so that we can deal with your proposals‚” said Taaibosch.
“We are taking what has been given here today as proposals from members who came here and sacrificed their time and money to say they want to see change. I hope you will be able to give us an opportunity to go and sit down with SA Taxi Finance to say that let us look into your proposal and let us renegotiate what is best for the [taxi] industry‚” he said.
His comments followed deputy director of Taxi Choice Thulani Qwabe reading out the response from SA Taxi Finance‚ who committed to reducing the interest rate on the purchase of Toyota Quantums from 28.5% to 25.5%.
This was immediately rejected by taxi owners and drivers‚ stating that was still too high.
“My fellow people‚ SA Taxi Finance says they hear your plea that R15‚000 is too much for you to pay‚ therefore they will call you individually via SMS and restructure your deal so that if you were paying 28.5 percent‚ they will reduce your rate to 25.5 percent‚” said Qwabe.
“On top of that‚ they will include a residual payment which will be R100‚000 and that will reduce your instalments on average by R1‚800 a month. So when you get to them‚ it will be up to you whether you want them to adjust your contract to the reduction of the interest‚ or you choose the residual payment option‚” Qwabe told taxi owners in IsiZ
Qwabe also told taxi owners that if their minibus taxi’s get impounded by SA Taxi Finance‚ they will now pay a minimum retrieval fee of R30‚000 instead of R50‚000.
He added that 1‚418 taxi owners had been identified that would have their instalments reduced by R3‚500 a month‚ by adjusting the interest SA Taxi Finance was charging the owners‚ and reducing the insurance and tracker premiums.
Earlier on Thursday afternoon‚ disgruntled taxi association members blockaded major Johannesburg freeways such as the N1‚ N3 and R21 highways‚ in a bid to get their message across‚ causing a backlog of traffic and resulting in flights being delayed.
“We are here today to say enough is enough. We started in Durban and we are here in Johannesburg. We can’t afford this payment as we are working for banks and for insurance houses and we and our families are struggling‚” said Boy Zondi‚ KZN Santaco chairman and national second deputy president.
“We can no longer afford 28% and we are saying today‚ SA Taxi Finance‚ cannot carry on being rich while we are get poorer. Government needs to come to the party‚ we need a subsidy now because our drivers are losing work‚” said Zondi.
Santaco announced earlier this week that they would take to the streets to protest against the challenges dogging the industry.
Two weeks ago‚ taxi drivers and owners embarked on a strike against Toyota in Durban‚ KwaZulu-Natal‚ over the manufacturer’s price hikes for Quantum minibus taxis since they were introduced in the country 10 years ago.
At least 1‚000 taxis drove in a convoy‚ interrupting traffic in and around Kempton Park‚ east of Johannesburg.
Thousands of commuters were left stranded and others were unable to go to work due to the strike