Sceptical taxi body sign on Rea Vaya bus transport

HANDSHAKE: Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council chairman Eric Motshwane, executive mayor of Johannesburg Amos Masondo, and Top Six Taxi Asssociation chairman Sicelo Mabaso at the launch of the bus rapid transit (BRT_ transport system in Bertrams. Pic. Peter Mogaki. 23/10/07. © Sowetan.
HANDSHAKE: Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council chairman Eric Motshwane, executive mayor of Johannesburg Amos Masondo, and Top Six Taxi Asssociation chairman Sicelo Mabaso at the launch of the bus rapid transit (BRT_ transport system in Bertrams. Pic. Peter Mogaki. 23/10/07. © Sowetan.

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

Taxi owners fear that Johannesburg's planned public transport plans pose a serious threat to the flourishing black-owned mini- bus taxi industry.

The planned Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system promises to provide all the city's residents with regular public transport throughout the day.

Sicelo Mabaso of Top Six, an umbrella body for several taxi associations, signed a memorandum of understanding with Mayor Amos Masondo on the taxi industry's role in the coordinated system with scepticism.

"A lot needs to be done to educate the operators about BRT. It should not be a threat to them. It should not take away their jobs," Mabaso said. "We need to understand that the taxi industry puts a meal on the table for operators and drivers."

Though Masondo has taken taxi industry leaders overseas to see how similar coordinated public transport systems function in South America, Asia and Europe, uncertainty still lingers.

"The situation is different there. They are situated within towns and we operate from the townships," Mabaso said.

"The main challenge is to ensure no one is left out. If it does happen, how are we going to compensate those who will be casualties? We must try to prevent a situation where there are losers."

Mabaso said there is disquiet about the recapitalisation programme as well.

Both initiatives flow from the government's efforts to transform and regulate the taxi industry, which has always been run informally.

The BRT system is scheduled to start operating in 2009, before the Soccer World Cup in 2010.

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