New 13-seater Siyayas will leave the driver with nothing, claim critics

Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

The government's plan to replace old minibus taxis with new models would make drivers run at a loss, the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) said yesterday.

"If you take these [Toyota Siyaya] taxis you are just as good as dead," alliance spokesman Alpheus Mlalazi told members at a meeting on the taxi recapitalisation programme.

The current 15-seater Siyayas leave a driver with a monthly income of R1731 after expenses of R15909 are deducted from an average monthly income from fares of R17640.

If the number of seats is reduced to 13 including the driver, he or she will lose R1797 a month because expenses remain the same and income will be reduced to R14112 a month.

Other models proposed by the government, which include Nissan, Fiat and Mercedes-Benz, will also lose drivers money because they are expensive to run.

NTA president Sicelo Mabaso said government changes to Siyaya specifications were designed to drive the taxi industry out of business.

"It shows the intention of the government is to remove taxis and bring in buses," he said.

"People think we are happy with our skoro-skoros. The reason we drive them is because of their affordability," Mabaso said.

He said that since 2005 changes to specifications included reducing the number of seats and then insisting last week that a tall person should be able to stand up inside the vehicle.

Mlalazi denied media reports made on Wednesday that the NTA would call for a week-long strike starting on Monday, adding that they had not yet decided.

"Toyi-toying is not the only solution to this problem, we need the best advocates," Mabaso said.

But he previously said: "If our meeting determines strike action, we will follow procedure." - With Sapa