Picture: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE
Picture: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE

Unable to compete with ride-sharing companies Uber and Taxify‚ iconic Durban meter-taxi institution Mozzie Cabs has closed its doors.

The company ran for nearly two decades and employed 150 people — from drivers to administrative staff — before the app-linked and online taxi services forced it to shut down.

This was the evidence given by Mozzie Cabs director Peter Lehman at the Competition Commission’s hearing into the passenger-transport sector in Durban on Thursday.

"It was a household name for people in Durban who wanted a meter-taxi. A lot of effort went into the quality of service … including systems to ensure our clients got a quality service and that we complied with all the legislation‚" he said.

"Mozzie Cabs has been a very compliant company. It was marginally profitable until about three years ago, but I am very sad to say that in the last two weeks we could not continue operations."

Lehman said that prices charged by the online companies were impossible to compete with and were almost half its reduced rate per kilometre.

"With the tide of the prices charged by e-hailing companies‚ the subsequent loss of business because of this‚ we had to close our doors; 150 employees are out of a job. We tried to develop an e-hailing app, but the cost of running a legally compliant business meant we had to charge more," Lehman said.

"Compared to the current charging rate of Uber and Taxify‚ we just couldn’t compete‚ and although our app worked‚ unfortunately, consumers decided to go the cheaper way."

The commission is investigating whether the public-transport sector might be restrictive or distorted. It has been holding public hearings around the country in June‚ focusing on price-setting mechanisms‚ price regulation‚ route allocation and allocation of operational subsidies.