'Exorbitant pricing' of Quantum at centre of taxi strike

Johannesburg - The increasing price of owning a taxi is at the centre of the taxi strike that has crippled transport across Gauteng on Thursday morning.

Taxis blocked major roads and highways in protest over what they see as exorbitant pricing for the Toyota Quantum minibuses. Drivers affiliated to South Africa National Taxi Council (Santaco) went on strike after talks with SA Taxi Finance Holdings deadlocked.

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Santaco spokesperson Ralph Jones said the protest centred around the escalating cost of the Toyota Quantum since it was introduced in the country 10 years ago.

Last week Thursday Santaco threatened to shut down the whole country if the highly used Toyota Quantum manufacturer did not respond to their demands within seven days. A week later they pulled the trigger.

When it was introduced, it was at a fully imported price of R220 000. It is now produced locally at a price of R450 000 before interest, which the industry felt was too expensive, Santaco said.

Santaco chairperson Boy Zondi told Fin24 they wanted Toyota to decrease the minibus price to R350 000.

At the end of May taxis in KwaZulu-Natal also protested over the Quantum prices, but was awaiting engagement from Toyota before deciding whether they will embark on further protest action. He warned then that taxi operators might be marching to the SA Taxi Finance offices in Johannesburg on Thursday, over the "high interest rates they charge for a Toyota Quantum".

Santaco said one Toyota Quantum costs more than R1m when the deposit, interest rate, installments, premiums and insurance have been considered.

“Some members of the taxi industry have been hard hit by a high interest rate of 28% and blacklisting due to payment of R15 000 per month over 72 months. We can’t take it anymore,” said Zondi.

Fin24 understands that Santaco had a meeting in Gauteng this week over the planned protest. It warned that no taxis will be operating and advised commuters to seek alternative transport.

Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesperson, Wayne Minnaar confirmed Santaco had been granted permission to march and that officers will be deployed for the march.

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