Toyota South Africa on Sunday condemned the illegal conversion of its panel vans into taxis.
“Our stance on the issue is clear. We don’t condone it at all,” said Toyota SA spokesperson Ferdi De Vos.
“The conversions started before the introduction of the Quantum Ses’fikile taxis. People converted the panel vans because it was cheaper,” he said.
De Vos was reacting to Western Cape provioncial transport minister Robin Carlisle’s comments that converted taxis were unfit to carry passengers.
“Every Toyota Quantum conversion is a potential time bomb, and … the conversions may have already cost many lives,” Carlisle’s department said in a statement on Sunday.
The Japanese carmaker’s safety standards have come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with the news that just short of 50 000 vehicles on South African roads will form part of a global recall.
Quantum panel vans could be a safety risk because their floors were not thick enough, the seat anchorage was too flimsy and there was no roll over protection bars, the department said.
Avoid converted taxis
“My advice to commuters is not to travel in converted Toyota Quantum panel vans until it has been established beyond a shadow of doubt that they are 100% safe,” said Carlisle.
A total of 44 panel vans had been converted into minibus taxis in the province.
Carlisle said he had written to Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele about the problem. — Sapa