Taxi bling is king in Durbs

2011-09-02 12:02

In the multimillion-rand taxi industry of Durban, bling is very much king. Every cent spent on pimping up a ride is money well spent.

“You need to spend money to make money,’’ says Romano ‘Chapazza’ Shaik, whose family has been in the industry for more than 50 years and runs two taxis on the highly lucrative route of Durban’s North Beach and uShaka Marine World to the south.

“In Durban the passengers are kinda spoilt,’’ he says. “If your taxi is not up to scratch with graphics, sound system and the works, passengers won’t get in. You have to make the effort, make sure your taxi is well maintained, clean and with a great sound system, that your driver is well dressed, clean and well behaved.’’

Each of Shaik’s two Flava vehicles – he has sold seven to get on the city’s BRT transport system programme – boasts modifications to the tune of R40?000.

The basic vehicle, a Toyota Quantum, goes for about R280?000. Add R20?000 for the sound system – Shaik reels off the specifications of tweeters, sub-woofers and amplifiers with the passion of a real connoisseur – R10?000 for graphics, R8?000 for whitewall tyres and rims, R2?000 for strobe lights under the chassis, R2?000 for “smash and grab’’ film over the windows, about R4?500 for reupholstering the bog standard seats and, R46?500 later, you have a taxi that the youngsters flock to.

In Durban taxi culture, the latest bling accessory is the roof tent, a long tube on the left side of the taxi which contains a tarpaulin that turns the taxi into a party zone.

“It’s not just about your daily route. If the passengers like your taxi, they hire you for specials on Friday and Saturday nights or to go to the beach on Sunday. This is R1?000 a shot – what you put in is what you get out,’’ he says.

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