It was “extremely disappointing” that some members of the taxi industry were threatening to protest against the Rea Vaya bus rapid-transit (BRT) system when it starts operating at the end of this month, before the negotiations with the taxi industry have been concluded, City of Johannesburg mayoral committee member for transportation Rehana Moosajee said on Friday.

City of Johannesburg executive mayor Amos Masondo announced on Wednesday that the BRT system was ready to commence with a starter service on August 30.

At the time, he noted that the city has established an interim company, which would act on behalf of the affected taxi operators, to manage the system until the city could finalise negotiations with the taxi industry to establish a bus operating company that would eventually own and manage the BRT system.

The interim company would manage the system only for a period of up to six months, he said.

The official bus operating company established by taxi operators would then own and run the buses, while the city would determine the schedule, do the marketing for the project and undertake road and station maintenance.

The R1,6-billion phase 1A of the system was initially set to be operational by June 14, before the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup, but taxi drivers and operators have protested against its implementation, accusing the city of sidelining some relevant parties.

Moosajee, once again, emphasised that the city has not yet closed the door on engagement or negotiations with anyone in the taxi industry.

She said that the BRT should not only be seen in the context of the taxi industry versus government, but rather in the context of the need for modernisation and development of South Africa’s transport system, as well as what commuters require from the transport system.

Meanwhile, Moosajee said that the city had not contravened any specific mandates from the national Department of Transport (DoT) in terms of the BRT system’s launch at the end of the month.

Earlier news reports had suggested that the DoT had not approved the launch of the system at the end of the month.

Moosajee noted that there has been constant communication between the three tiers of government around the key milestones of the project.

She added that there was also a general understanding among these tiers of government that the negotiation process of the joint national working group would be longer and more drawn out than where the process was in the City of Johannesburg.

Logan Maistry, the spokesperson for Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele also denied the suggestions that the DoT had not approved the launch, confirming that the launch was going ahead.