Taximen in Cape Town protest against BRT

A NUMBER of concerned organisations in Western Cape have rallied behind the Western Cape National Taxi Alliance in lobbying against the government's planned bus rapid transport system.

The South African National Civics Organisation, National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Struggle Veterans Action Committee and Ottery Toyota were some of the organisations that joined hundreds of people at the Du Noon informal settlement yesterday to condemn BRT.

Mayor Dan Plato, who also addressed the gathering, said much of the fears about BRT were based on misconceptions that needed to be addressed with the stakeholders.

"The government is playing with us. They are kicking us like a soccer ball," said NTA provincial chairperson Mandla Mata.

He complained that the BRT project would wipe out the taxi industry, leaving most players without the means to put food on the table.

Mata said he was disappointed byANC Youth League president Julius Malema, who talked about "shoot to kill" but was failed to be vocal about BRT.

He said most of his members had recently voted for the ANC with the hope that it would support them against the project, but that had not happened.

Nafcoc provincial spokesperson Mandise Njoli said his organisation was behind the NTA and the "time to play" about BRT was gone.

His said there should be no compromise in rejecting BRT and "we will mobilise, strategise and move forward together".

"The doors we will find closed, we will kick them open," he said, pleading with the government to stop its plans around BRT because it would destroy small businesses owned by black people.

Faizel Moosa, provincial chairperson of the SVAC, took a swipe at Cosatu, the ANC and the Department of Transport for not attending the meeting.

"We will fight against the oppression of our people. We will stand together with you," he said to applause from the crowd.

Ottery Toyota sales executive Charmaine Lategane said her company supported the NTA because "if the taxi owners and drivers don't have a job, we also don't have a job".

Mavis Mbambathane, speaking on behalf of vendors in the area, told the gathering that if the taxi industry collapsed because of BRT their businesses would also fall apart.

"We don't want it (BRT). We have children who work as taxi drivers andpanelbeaters. We sell goods at the ranks. There are no jobs from the government. We ask everybody on the street to protest against BRT," she said.

But Plato said there were many economic benefits for the taxi industry and concerned parties as a result of the implementation of BRT.

He said BRT generated unnecessary war talk in the media, such as turning Cape Town into a war zone.

If there were differences between the government and NTA they had to be resolved amicably, he said.

He said a date for a workshop with the NTA leadership and other stakeholders to resolve issues around BRT would be announced today.