They scrap BRT and they will have peace

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

Taxi operators have threatened to disrupt the April 22 elections, and stop the Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup.

"They scrap the BRT, they have peace. They continue, they have no elections, no Confederations Cup, no World Cup.

"We will disrupt the three things the government is crazy about," said taxi operator Mduduzi Mkhize.

Mkhize said that he was disgusted by the manner in which the ANC government was dealing with the taxi industry.

"First it was operating permits, then we were forced to buy Quantum combis, before we even pay them off, it is now this BRT."

Another taxi owner, Siyabonga Mpungose, echoed Mkhize's remarks.

"We are taxi operators, that is what we do for a living. Do they want us to break into people's houses? They must leave our business alone," he said.

Mpungose admitted that he did not know what BRT was about but said all that he knew was that the government was taking his business away.

"How many people will be left unemployed because of this BRT thing. One taxi creates about seven jobs," said Mpungose.

Mkhize and Mpungose were among the thousands of taxi operators from across Gauteng who marched on the Johannesburg city centre, calling for the BRT to be scrapped.

The taxi associations handed over a memorandum to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and Gauteng department of transport official Sibusiso Buthelezi.

The memorandum, addressed to ANC president Jacob Zuma, said taxi drivers and operators were not consulted about the new system and believed they would not benefit from it.

The document was compiled by the United Taxi Association Forum.

It contended that taxi owners purchased new vehicles under the taxi recapitalisation programme, which saw old taxis scrapped for bigger, newer models, and had to receive financing to do so.

If the taxi business was taken away from the taxi owners, they would not be able to make the repayments - and their vehicles would be repossessed.

"They still expect the taxi owners who are affected to sell their vehicles although there will be no market for it, or redeploy them on unaffected routes.

"The last option will create taxi wars and bloodshed as each taxi route already has enough taxis."

They said the city had been planning the BRT system for two years, but never offered to train anyone in the taxi industry.

"Nor were taxi drivers invited to attend driving courses to upgrade their taxi driver's licences to bus driver's licences."