Want to zoom around Jo’burg? Hire a Merc

  • Atreyo Mukhopadhyay, Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
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  • Updated: May 21, 2009 01:01 IST

I have lost count the number of times I have zoomed across the streets of Johannesburg in a Mercedes. Going to the plush and elegant Sandton Sun, where the teams are staying,  one doesn’t look out of place, but here I am riding a Merc while going to the shop to buy toothpaste and a nail-cutter too. Reason? Many taxis in this city are of that famous make.

No, the company doesn’t manufacture those cars to be used as taxis in the largest city of South Africa. It’s just that taxi drivers find these cars most suitable for their use and buy used ones for business. Most cars running under the company name of Angelo Cabs are Mercs and there you are, feeling privileged after hiring one of them.

“The new ones come for over 500,000 rand. For the second-hand ones, the price ranges from 150,000 to 220,000,” informs Kenneth, one of these drivers, who owns a swanky deep violet Merc. “You get other makes for a lot cheaper, but this one is good to have because it’s a sturdy car and keeps you going for a long time if you buy one in good condition and maintain it properly. Passengers like them too.”

Kenneth bought his car exactly two years ago and recovered the money in about “15 months”. “You have to have long working hours to do that,” he reminds. But you don’t have to bother about all that if you are here. Just call one of them for a good ride on the silken streets with that majestic feeling as bonus.

Midweek business

WHILE FINDING out about the tariff at the hotel here on a Saturday, I thought the lady at the reception had got it wrong when she said that the rates on weekdays are double of what they are on weekends. Must be the opposite, I thought, and started feeling good about the fact that there would be just two weekend days during my stay here.

She took just a second to get me back to reality. The rates are actually double on weekdays. How is that? Isn’t the demand for rooms more on weekends because they are holidays? “No,” came the reply. “Most of our clients are here on business and that’s why we charge more on the working days.”

So remember this: if you are planning a trip to Jo’burg  maybe you can split your stay in two halves if you are thinking of spending four nights here! Go elsewhere midweek. There are lots of places to see.


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