Durban. — The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday threatened to shut the country down if Toyota — the manufacturers of the Toyota Quantum minibus preferred by government — didn’t respond to their grievances within the next seven days.
The taxi operators brought traffic to a standstill on major Durban routes and surrounding areas yesterday morning while on their way to a Toyota plant in Prospecton, Isipingo.
They were protesting “over the escalating cost of the Toyota Quantum since it was introduced in the country 10 years ago”. When it was introduced, it was at a fully imported price of R220 000. It is now however, locally produced at R450 000 before interest, which the industry feels is too expensive, Santaco said.
According to the organisation’s calculations, one Toyota Quantum costs more than R1 million when the deposit, interest rates, instalments, premiums and insurance have been considered.
Santaco KZN chair Boy Zondi told News24 that they want Toyota to decrease the minibus price to R350 000. “We also demand that Toyota stops supplying SA Taxi Finance with Toyota Quantums because of the high interest rate they charge us,” he said, adding that they suspect that banks, Toyota and SA Taxi Finance are colluding to cheat taxi operators.
Zondi said they gave the minibus manufacturer seven days to respond to their grievances. “If they don’t respond, we will shut down the whole of South Africa,” he threatened. Minibus taxis began operating shortly after Santaco handed over their memorandum to a Toyota representative.
Police, however, warned motorists to use alternative routes in areas where roads were still blocked. Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said the taxis blocked the roads along the N2 near Prospecton, where the Toyota plant is based.
“Police are monitoring the situation,” Zwane said. In Umlazi’s Maurice Gumede Drive, taxi drivers blocked roads with burning tyres and rubble.
They also threw stones at passing vehicles. Some learners and workers were affected by the protest that began shortly after 0000hrs. Toyota could not be reached for comment. — News24.