Taxi bodies put brakes on Rea Vaya

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

The decision of the Gauteng taxi industry to pull out of the envisaged Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system could lead to the total collapse of the system.

The decision to pull out was taken yesterday at a meeting held in Kibler Park, east of Johannesburg, by the National Taxi Alliance, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and other taxi associations in the province.

The BRT is a new bus system that aims to bring modern, frequent, low-cost and fast public transport to the cities that will host the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

"We are recalling all our members involved in the BRT negotiations," said Santaco's president, Jabulani Mthembu.

"We will create a new platform so that our members can be properly updated."

He said one of their complaints was that the City of Johannesburg had decided to engage regional structures "because BRT was going to affect them directly".

Taxi operators have also claimed that the system will run them out of business.

"We have realised that our members are confused about BRT, hence the decision to pull out," said Mthembu.

In December the City of Johannesburg signed a memorandum of understanding with Top Six Taxi Management and the Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council (GJRTC).

In the memorandum, the parties agreed to engage in the planning, design and implementation of the BRT project.

Ten members from each of the main taxi bodies in the country - NTA and Santaco - were part of the negotiation process.

The GJRTC is affiliated to Santaco while Top Six falls under the NTA.

"It is not that we are resisting transformation, but we want to be taken seriously.

"We want to be part of the whole negotiation process," said Santaco's general secretary, Phillip Taaibosch.

He said that no association was allowed to attend any meeting on BRT issues unless it was invited by the national structures.

Taaibosch said they would send a letter to Transport Minister Jeff Radebe requesting a summit to discuss the BRT project.

The NTA's general secretary, Alpheus Mlalazi, said: "We strongly believe that the process of change should be transparent. In our view, this has not been the case.

"We therefore feel that our members should be recalled from the negotiation process."