SATAXI has introduced an incentive scheme in which taxi operators who have been unable to pay their full installments and have financial constrains can now get incentives for their payments efforts.
However, some taxi industry insiders say that the scheme may be an indirect repossession of vehicles meant to save both the taxi operators and the company money although SA Taxi denies this claim.
Maroba Maduma is group communiacrions manager at SATAXI. He said the plan for this scheme has long been in the pipelines for some time and would go a long way into helping those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to avoid being behind on their installments.
“The scheme was driven by the customers’ needs to get assistance from us to avoid failing behind on their accounts which stems from the financial constraints that come from the Covid-19 lockdown,” he said.
SATAXI has confirmed the existence of this scheme and said the reaction from the industry was encouraging, judging by the response at its early stages.
“The industry is showing a positive response to the scheme and they understand and appreciate our efforts to assist them in any way in order for them to keep their accounts up to date to avoid falling behind on their installments,” added Maroba.
He said although they could not identify the exact numbers of taxi operators already in the scheme there was a unique way in which they communicated the message to them.
“Each customer gets an SMs that tells them exactly how much they need to be paying to qualify for the incentive and the up tale (sic) is at the individual client’s discretion.
“We are trying to assist taxi operators and meet them halfway,” Maroba further continued.
In KwaZulu-Natal industry leaders have confirmed that the company has extended this offer whereby members who are either struggling to honour or partly pay their installments their monthly installments are encouraged to accept the offer.
“We got the information that is said to be from SA Taxi to associations saying that there is an offer meant to help some members who can’t keep up with their installments and those that they should consider taking their vehicles back. We have been asked to talk with such members to make them consider this offer that also would give them a buy back option after a year,” said a taxi operator who cannot be quoted in the media.
He said that the qualifying criteria for the scheme is assessed on individual basis looking at payment ability in the past three months and consistency with which an operator managed their individual accounts. The financial assistance for the operators range in the value of between R1000 and R5000 depending on the profiles of the individual taxi operators.
Maduma adds adds that they wanted to ensure that operators were still able yon have their taxis on the road and are still able to still run their businesses.
“By so doing we are trying to make sure that operators are able to pay and had their taxis on the road. We would not want to have people not being able to earn a living,” Maduma added.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the country SA Taxi Finance was one of the companies that extended payment holiday extension to the industry alongside other financial lenders such as the commercial banks.
According to SATAXI, the incentive scheme runs until April but will be reviewed “according to the need of the industry.”
Efforts to speak to Santaco national spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa proved fruitless. He couldn’t return the calls.