An idea whose time has come

ON PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's instruction we met more than 2000 taxi industry representatives and formed the National Joint Working Group in June.

The mandate is to ensure that the taxi industry becomes a bigger player in the transport sector and the rest of our economy. This is a fresh forward-looking approach .

As government we want to develop a public transport system which is reliable, affordable and safe. On this we are not prepared to compromise. The reliability of public transport means that when we say it is available every five to 10 minutes this is so. Affordability means commuters pay a reasonable amount to get from point A to B. Safety speaks directly to security of life and limb.

So what are we to do when passengers are shot at as happened on Tuesday night?

We expect a complete change of culture in the taxi industry away from violence to negotiation and reason.

We expect a change to professionalism and courtesy . We want no taxi wars.

When we launched the Bus Rapid Transit system on Sunday we started a journey of absolute convenience for the commuter. The BRT has never been about buses. The BRT is not merely about the taxis or the government. The BRT is about the commuter.

With Rea Vaya, the City of Johannesburg has taken a resolution that it will be owned and operated by the taxi industry. This is also our commitment , to let the taxi industry run the BRT along agreed international standards. So what is this fear of the inevitable, of an idea whose time has come?

BRT is about the character of our country in the 21st century. Do we want a fearful commuter or safe, affordable and reliable public transport? To get there, together with the taxi industry, we have to continue negotiating.

lThe writer is national minister of Transport.