Gauteng taxi drivers brought parts of the province to a standstill on Thursday when they staged a protest over the price of the Toyota Quantum taxi – which costs more than R400 000 – and the high interest they’re being charged by SA Taxi Finance Holdings. The issue was brought to light during a taxi protest in Durban in May.

Sipho Mabuza* has worked in the taxi industry for more than a decade and says he’s become “a slave to his instalment” because he’s not making any profit.

READ MORE: No taxi protests planned ‘for now’ over rising Quantum price

Mabuza bought his taxi about two years ago and still has two years to pay it off. He says he won’t reap any rewards for the next three years. “For me, for the taxi industry, the price is too exorbitant,” he says. “I’ll give you an example: I have a Quantum operating from Kagiso to Joburg. This Quantum is making me R16 000, and I have to pay an instalment of R10 000. Now I’m left with R6 000. I still have to pay the drivers. So you’re left with nothing.”

He adds that he doesn’t feel like he’s running a business, but that he’s a slave. Mabuza’s taxi was financed by SA Taxis at an interest rate of 28%.

READ MORE: Taxi drivers hijack trucks to block freeway

Mabuza says he bought his taxi for more R300 000 because it had been a repossessed car and is a 2010 model. He currently pays an instalment of R10 250, which amounts to R615 000 for the taxi.

He adds that the organisation also hassles drivers when they report problems with the Quantum. He explains that he experienced problems with his taxi within two months of purchasing it, and when he complained, SA Taxi gave him the runaround, so much so that he had to involve lawyers.

“I got to a point where I wanted to tell them to take the car back,” he says. We’re grateful that they helped to finance the car because banks don’t want to finance us. But I wish they would decrease the interest because it’s too much.

Toyota says they’ve engaged with the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) and are waiting for their response. The car manufacturer will not reveal what they spoke about until the taxi association has responded.

“Toyota entered the discussions with the sole purpose of finding a solution which will ensure that taxi operators and commuters alike are the real beneficiaries in the taxi value chain. Unfortunately TSAM is not in a position at this stage to comment on the specific contents of the discussions until such time as there is mutual agreement by the parties concerned,” says Toyota.

“Toyota entered the discussions with the sole purpose of finding a solution which will ensure that taxi operators and commuters alike are the real beneficiaries in the taxi value chain. Unfortunately TSAM is not in a position at this stage to comment on the specific contents of the discussions until such time as there is mutual agreement by the parties concerned,” says Toyota.

*Not his real name