‘A milestone for taxi industry’

2014-06-26 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal taxi industry will never be the same again following a ­historic deal with Halfway Toyota yesterday, the dealmakers said.

The deal sees KZN Taxi and Commuter Corporation — a Section 21 company owned by the South African national Taxi Council and KZN Transport Alliance — take a 10% stake in the Halfway Toyota Group.

The stake is worth R3 million and will see the taxi industry move from simply owning taxis to having a stake in the business that sells to them.

The deal was announced at Howick’s Halfway Toyota dealership.

The KZN Taxi and Commuter Corporation was formed in 2008 and was aimed at buying businesses, especially property, dealerships and providing bursaries for needy students.

The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu, applauded the deal.

Dr Johan van Zyl, the president and CEO of Toyota SA Motors, said the deal was the first of its kind in the country and he hoped it would be replicated across the country.

“Gone are the days when being a taxi operator meant that one wears a leather jacket and a cap because you are now fully fledged business owners,” he said.

Van Zyl said KZN had been a leader in transforming the taxi industry because they were the only province to show what they did with the money that was given to them through Toyota’s Siyaya ­Programme.

The Siyaya Programme donated millions to provincial taxi associations.

“You purchased 14 buildings which were used as regional offices and also offered bursaries to students,” said Van Zyl.

He described the occasion as momentous and congratulated the structures of the taxi industry which made this ­possible.

“We are building a plant in KZN which will be creating Sesifikile taxis which will be used by the taxi industry as a commitment to ensuring that this industry grows,” he said.

Boy Zondi, chairperson of the Commuter Corporation and KZN Santaco, who is also the deputy president of ­Santaco nationally, said: “This is a progressive partnership and we urge the government across its spheres to also support this dealership by procuring from and servicing their vehicle fleet at this dealership.”

Mchunu said, “This is a milestone for the taxi industry. First of its kind, it directly responds to our government’s call for socio-economic transformation, and indeed we hope it will be replicated by even competitors of Toyota,” he said.

Mchunu said the deal cemented industry unity and marked the evolution of taxi operators into solid businesses with stakes across the transport value chain and other sectors of the economy.

“We strongly value Toyota’s confidence in the economy of this province and the country at large.

“Toyota has previously invested billions of rand in expanding paint and production plants in Prospecton, in ­Durban,” he said.

Mchunu said it was critical that the taxi industry also grew into a subsidised bus services as was already the case in Ugu district.

“Let us clean and grow the taxi industry by ensuring that it moves away from one known for conflict over routes into a thriving business with interests in other sectors of the mainstream economy,” said Mchunu.

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