The SA National Taxi Council has secured a 30 per cent discount on the new 18- and 35-seater minibus taxis and appointed Taxiprop-BR as its taxi and bus rank development partner.

The SA National Taxi Council has secured a 30 per cent discount on the new 18- and 35-seater minibus taxis and appointed Taxiprop-BR as its taxi and bus rank development partner.

The R2,3-billion deal will transform the existing taxi and bus ranks to retail and vehicle centre hubs. Under the agreement, a new property holding company called Santaco Property will be formed in which the taxi industry will hold a majority share.

"Taxiprop-BR has offered Santaco a substantial portfolio of properties, which has been developed to an advanced stage over a period of time," said the council's president, Thomas Muofhe.

The developments will offer retail shopping space, financial services and banking facilities, semiformal retail space, and vehicle dealerships and service facilities. Development will be initiated at strategically-positioned high-density transportation nodes and in large townships where there is a lack of infrastructure

Muofhe said that according to the agreement with Taxiprop-BR, the taxi industry would hold the majority share in the properties once they had been constructed. The industry would pay for its share of ownership from the proceeds of income from the centres.

Taxiprop-BR shareholders are Taxiprop Development, an empowerment property development company, Basil Read building company and women’s empowerment group Ulutsha Development.

Taxiprop-BR chief executive Kevin Williams said the company had identified 50 sites to be developed over the next 10 years. The first five sites to be developed this year are the Bloed Street taxi rank in Pretoria, Randfontein, Wynberg in Cape Town, and Umtata and Mount Frere in Eastern Cape.

Meanwhile, James Chapman, the economic adviser to Santaco, said the new minibus taxis, which will replace current minibus taxis in terms of the government’s taxi recapitalisation plan, were expected to cost between R160 000 and R380 000.

Chapman said the 30 per cent discount was independent of the scrap value of the old vehicle. "It used to be 20 per cent but Santaco has managed to negotiate that up to 30 per cent. But we are not happy yet and we want to get an even higher discount," he said

Two of the companies will be finally awarded contracts to build the 35-seaters while three will be allowed to build the 18-seaters. Six companies - Iveco, DaimlerChrysler, AMC (South Africa), Gaz (Russia), Kwoong Chung (China) and Tata (India) - have been shortlisted.

The department of transport said the planned size of the new fleet had been reduced from 120 000 minibus taxis to 76 000, as this reflected the current number of licensed taxis on the country's roads.

The department expected the first new taxis to be imported until the South African projects were fully operational, said. The department was quoted as saying that Best-and-Final-Offer (Bafo) notification letters had been sent to the six short-listed bidders, informing them to prepare for the process.

"Bidders have a month to respond to the Bafo letter, giving new guarantees," it said. "In the meantime, it is critical to note that the Bafo negotiations covering technical, empowerment, administration and financial issues will take approximately two months ending May 2003."

Original article from Car