Time the fat cats in government drove local

By John Fraser

I always have two fingers at the ready when one of those blue light convoys tries to force me into a ditch as it whizzes by, with some self-important prat lounging in the back of the largest limo.

So far I am not aware whether any of my hopes have come true – that several bolts of lightning will descend upon the vehicles, microwaving the occupants, and saving a fortune in cremation fees.

However, a suggestion at a Toyota conference by my old chum Martyn Davies of Deloitte that government vehicles should be locally built did give me food for thought (the actual food at the event was very good – not a frequent occurrence at corporate events these days.)

It does seem immensely stupid that government pours billions of rand a year into the SA auto industry, to keep it anchored here and to encourage expansion, and yet so many cars in the state’s auto pool have been imported.

The mischievous might even suggest that there is an element of hypocrisy here, although this is rarely displayed by our political bosses and their bureaucratic lackeys.

Maybe, instead of trying to force us to pay ludicrous tolls and bombarding us with traffic fines (or bribes to make them go away) we could see something more effective.

Official vehicles should be lekkerly local as a strict rule, and should a state employee elect to display extra bling by purchasing an import, then they should enjoy no mileage allowance or any other vehicular perk.

The conference itself was interesting, despite the fawning awfulness of the MC, and Davies produced the shocking statistic that while only 66 electric vehicles were sold in SA last year, the figure for China was 1.1 million.

Toyota SA CEO Andrew Kirby was asked about local production of electric vehicles and hybrids, and he suggested it is some way off because of poor local demand.

This will change, but just not yet.

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