The SA taxi industry says it will defy orders by Fifa if the world’s football body bans Inyathi taxis at the 2010 World Cup.

Speaking at an inspection of the Port Elizabeth stadium, the department of transport’s director-general Mpumi Mpofu said that while the taxis did meet SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) requirements, they did not comply with Fifa’s.

Mpofu, standing in for Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, called on taxi operators to reject the Chinese-made taxis in order to be part of the tournament.

“Inyathi taxis do meet the standard requirements of the SABS but concerns include the issue of whether they can last long. The problems are not safety-related, but the taxis are of poor quality,” he said.

Contacted for comment, Phillip Taaibosch, spokesperson for the SA National Taxi Council, was not aware of Mpofu’s comments.

“They can’t dictate to us what we must use to transport our passengers. The Inyathis meet the requirements of the SABS and we will utilise them whether they like it or not.”

Taaibosch said the Inyathis were approved by the government as part of its taxi recapitalisation plan and there were now more than 25 000 on the roads.

“If they stop the Inyathis from operating during the World Cup, they could ignite a huge, huge spark.”

Solly Msiza, spokesperson for the China Auto Manufacture Company (CAM), which produces the Inyathis, said: “What does Fifa know about minibus taxis? In Germany they used metered taxis.

So what are these specifications they are talking about?

“They must engage with us so we can deal with it appropriately.”

Fifa had not responded at the time of going to press.

AUTHOR: Kashiefa Ajam
DATED: 25th October 2008