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Authorities have left us in the dark about BRT - taxi boss

By unknown | Mar 03, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mea culpa. A taxi boss called and set me straight about his association's refusal to join the Bus Rapid Transit.

Mea culpa. A taxi boss called and set me straight about his association's refusal to join the Bus Rapid Transit.

He said it had nothing to do with the dobha-dobha practice. He said it was difficult for taxi owners to join the BRT when the government has not really explained what it is.

They have been told that it is a wonderful scheme that will benefit everyone, but no one has told taxi bosses or drivers how this would happen.

He said disaster began with the taxi recapitalisation programme. Many owners who bought new kombis for between R350000 and R400000 are still paying for them. Many owners who have a single kombi are still waiting for the government to give them the R50000 recapitalisation fee.

"Many roads have been built, lanes designated and tenders are out for further work. But there is nothing for taxi owners and drivers. We do not know how we are going to benefit. Many of our drivers are illiterate. The taxis are a good way for them to earn a living. The government cannot give us an assurance that no one will lose his job," he said.

He said there had been suggestions that drivers would be retrained as security guards. He snorted at the suggestion and said it was inadequate. He said the taxi industry had spawned many jobs, including queue marshals, car guards, car washers, cleaners and vendors.

Some agencies such as the registrar's office, which issues permits and controls routes, would be without work.

If the taxi industry collapsed, many workers would be without jobs.

There had been discussions with the government about designated lanes for taxis. The government refused to allow taxis to use the yellow (emergency) lane. He said it was clear that government planning did not really concern itself with the taxi industry.

"We do not mind the smart card. We welcome it because it will be easy to collect the money from the bank."

The industry had only signed a memorandum of understanding with the government, not an agreement.

The men from Santaco (SA National Taxi Council) were also unable to tell them anything about the BRT. They did not know much about it and merely enjoyed being seconded to government and paid for their services.

"The government does not know much about our operations. In 1999 we were included in the plans for the rugby, cricket and soccer cups. Everything went well. But we have been sidelined from the 2010 plenary sessions, with the government thinking it can represent us."

The taxi boss said the taxi industry had actively educated many people who were now embarrassed to admit their roots.


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