TAXI drivers, who unwittingly bought panel vans converted into unsafe taxis will return them to dealerships if the banks refuse to pay for the safety upgrades.
This comes after the Department of Transport said last Friday that the 2353 panel vans used as taxis have six months from April 1 2010 to meet safety standards or be impounded.
Sicelo Mabaso, chairperson of Top Six Taxi Association, said they had asked the banks to carry the cost of converting the panel van taxis into safe taxis.
"There is no need for taxi owners to pay. If they refuse to fix them we will return them to the dealer and ask for our deposit back," Mabaso said.
He said the taxi owners did not know that they were buying unsafe taxis.
The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) announced that its members would not pay for the safety upgrades.
Meanwhile South African Taxi Finance has thrown a life line to taxi owners, operating converted panel vans, whose financiers will not pay for the safety upgrades.
Chief executive officer Martin Bezuidenhout said this week: "We will cover the cost of the conversion for the 484 taxis that we financed but we also want to help taxi owners who have been left in the cold by their financiers."
Bezuidenhout said the owners could apply for their panel van taxis to be upgraded to meet safety requirements before the September 1 deadline without incurring increased monthly premiums.
He said the payment of the upgrading would be discussed by the two parties and the financial institution.