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Aug 25, 2009

Joburg taxi industry supports BRT in principle

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GJRTC chairperson Erick Motshwane explains why the negotiations regarding the Rea Vaya BRT is important to the taxi industry.
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The start of the operation of the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system in the City of Johannesburg was “supported in principle” by the Joburg Taxi Industry Negotiating Team for the Phase 1A contract, it said on Tuesday.

The team comprised members of the taxi industry in Johannesburg who had been mandated to represent taxi owners from nine taxi associations that would be affected by the implementation of the BRT system.

The Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council (GJRTC), the Top Six Taxi Organisation, the Gauteng Taxi Council and the Gauteng Structure of the National Taxi Alliance were also supporting the team.

The city had commenced the negotiation process with the taxi associations three weeks ago, while a starter service would already commence operations on Sunday.

While the negotiating team had also extended an invitation to the national taxi structures, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Association, to participate in the negotiations, these associations have not yet responded to the invitation.

Santaco last week called on taxi operators to protest against the implementation of the BRT systems, which will be rolled out in 2010 FIFA World Cup host cities across the country.

The R1,6-billion phase 1A of the Johannesburg system was initially set to be operational by June 14, before the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup, but some taxi drivers and operators have protested against its implementation, accusing the city of sidelining some relevant parties.

Despite the taxi industry in Johannesburg, and nationally, being divided with regard to the BRT system, the steering committee reiterated its “firm position to continue with our mandate to negotiate the first BRT contract in South Africa”, the negotiation team stated at a media briefing.

GJRTC chairperson Erick Motshwane said that the taxi industry could not vilify the BRT system without first studying what it entailed and whether it made business sense or not for the industry to participate in the system.

He noted that, as the BRT system would affect the taxi industry directly, it had an obligation to shape the system in what it wanted the system to be.

The negotiations were expected to continue for another two or three months.

Top Six Taxi Association chairperson Sicelo Mabaso said that provision had been made for an interim company to manage the BRT system for a six-month period while the industry and the City of Johannesburg tried to conclude an agreement.

He added that it was a prerequisite for the city to ensure that that no job losses or profit losses occurred in the taxi industry as a result of the implementation of the BRT system.

The team has, to date, been involved in the selection of drivers, marshals and cleaners for the interim company, with all staff being former formal and informal employees of the taxi industry.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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