From as early as 3am‚ taxi blockades caused major disruptions along all major routes around Durban. The N2 and N3 freeways‚ as well as various roads across the city‚ were shut‚ as members of the South African National Taxi Council gathered at Toyota’s Prospecton plant‚ south of Durban.
Many of the blocked routes were those that gave access to the Toyota plant.
A memorandum handed to a senior manager at Toyota states that the company boasts a 80% market share of the mini-bus taxi vehicle sales‚ compared to just 4% in 1984. It also claimed that the Toyota Quantum sells for over R400‚ 000‚ with an unaffordable instalment.
The Quantum Ses’fikile is manufactured locally‚ with part funding from the government through the Department of Trade and Industry – but the taxi association claims that Toyota has also stopped its contribution of R10‚000 per vehicle towards the taxi investment account.
“The actions of the capitalism’s companies such as Toyota SA do not only destroy the livelihood of thousands of South African families but the higher prices lead to smaller profits which in turn starts operators fighting amongst each other ‘commonly known’ as taxi violence where our members actively pursue each other sometimes leading to serious injury and even death of taxi owners‚ drivers and in the worst case commuters‚” the memorandum reads.
Among the demands from the taxi industry was respect for its leaders‚ for leading players in Toyota SA to stop supporting or encouraging extremely bad trading practices through which the industry is coerced and manipulated‚ that Toyota SA who participates in the taxi industry’s value chain‚ and for the company to actively invest in partnership to create cash flow to allow the industry to serve its members by creating taxi industry owned initiatives.
The initiatives include soft education ‚ training and awareness campaigns for owners and drivers‚ road safety campaigns‚ health campaigns‚ courtesy vehicles in the event of break-downs‚ courtesy vehicle fleet for when vehicles are damaged or in for repair for substantial periods of time.
The priority interventions are for Toyota SA to identify and finance 11 Toyota dealerships to purchase a significant stake for the creation of 11 dedicated taxi owned‚ taxi centre dealerships throughout South Africa for the sale of vehicles to members and that Toyota streamline the selling of Toyota Quantum vehicles and all Toyota Ses’fikile vehicles to be sold through the 11 dealership’s that the taxi industry will own.
“The taxi industry demands empowerment. This can be achieved through the extension of the already highly successful programme where Toyota gives stock to the taxi industry’s rental company‚ Zola Taxi Rentals (ZTR). This programme has been highly successful because the taxi industry knows how best to structure and price taxi finance packages.
The ZTR book still has 0% credit loss after operating for 53 months‚ written R500 million worth of business and having over 1‚300 active accounts.
This ZTR book performance makes a mockery of the book performance of other dealership’s and stands testimony to the fact that the taxi industry indeed has the best interest of the taxi operators at heart and proves this by offering them finance packages that they can afford‚” the document reads.
Other demands are that Toyota SA show immediate and tangible economic empowerment‚ transformation‚ social and enterprise development and improved BBBEE ratings of its own organisation in favour of the taxi industry and its members‚ contribute a royalty of R10‚000 per taxi vehicle sold to the industry and interventions such as rebates and substantial discounts on all taxi products be implemented.
In conclusion‚ the memo stated that similar visits will become a regular occurrence unless they receive a response from Toyota SA within seven days.
Suben Moodley‚ Toyota spokesman‚ confirmed that all routes to the company’s Prospecton plant were affected by the protest.
“As a result‚ staff working the night shift were unable to exit the premises in the morning‚ and all day shift staff have been requested not to come to work‚ causing a halt to the day’s planned production at the plant‚” Moodley said.
He said the company would go through the list of demands.
“Please note that Toyota South Africa has not at any point been approached by the…protesting groups prior to today’s action. At this stage‚ Toyota representatives are waiting to receive a memorandum from the protesting groups‚ which is due to be handed over this morning.
Toyota will engage with the relevant groups after evaluating the requests in the memorandum‚ as we do with all our customers‚” said Moodley.