Taxi operators will buy into the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and will not carry out threats to disrupt the upcoming Fifa Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup.
This assurance was given by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Wednesday while briefing journalists at Tuynhuis on the country’s readiness to host the events that could entrench it on the global sports map.
Motlanthe said Thursday’s meeting between Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele and members of the SA National Taxi Council – which represents taxi groupings opposed to the BRT – will help resolve taxi operators’ resistance to the new transport mode.
The BRT system is being pioneered mainly in the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg through the introduction of buses running in dedicated bus lanes.
Taxi operators fear the BRT could eat into their profits and have threatened to resist it, with some saying they would disrupt the soccer tournaments.
Motlanthe said, however, he was confident taxi operators would be brought on board in time for the events.
“I’m confident that an amicable resolution will be found with taxi operators with regards to the BRT… they will be the happiest by the time we get to the competition,” he said.
Local Organising Committee chairperson Irvin Khoza said 70 percent of Confederations Cup tickets had already been sold and that the opening match between Bafana Bafana and Iraq on Sunday was almost sold out.
A total of 640 000 tickets were available for the tournament and just under 500 000 have been sold.
Motlanthe said this boded well for South Africa’s hosting of the tournament.
“All signs are that we are heading for a fully packed 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup, as well as the 2010 Fifa World Cup,” he said.
The Confederations Cup, to be played over two weeks, will see a number of top national squads, including Brazil, Italy and Spain, vying for the trophy with the South African squad, as well as New Zealand, Egypt and the United States.
A total of 8 000 police officers will be deployed during the Confederations Cup to ensure the safety of the many fans expected to descend on the venues from Africa and overseas.
Motlanthe said that South Africa had proven recently with the hosting of the Indian Premier League that it is an ideal destination and capable of hosting major world sporting tournaments.
He said a total of 34 910 rooms had been secured for the 2010 World Cup, 5 284 of which are from small operators.