|The authorities won’t tolerate lawlessness from taxi operators on the Bus Rapid Transit system that comes into operation in less than two months.
Gauteng Community Safety spokesman Thaphelo Moiloa yesterday warned taxi operators not to try to disrupt a test run on the much-awaited BRT system.
Taxi industry operators have increasingly expressed their dissatisfaction with the BRT, fearing it would result in income and job losses. They are also not happy about the time limits placed on their operating permits.
One of the biggest taxi industry umbrella bodies, the National Taxi Alliance (NTA), recently presented a document to Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele claiming “intellectual property rights” over the routes to be used by the BRT system.
Slightly more than a week ago, the NTA warned that it would hold a protest march, followed by a two-day work stayaway seven days later, if government authorities fail to meet soon with them as promised.
NTA general secretary Alpheus Mlalazi said that if there was no response to this either, the alliance would escalate its actions.
Before this, a group of disaffected taxi operators, calling themselves the United Johannesburg Taxi Associations Forum, had in March called a taxi drivers’ strike to show unhappiness with the new transport system.
Simultaneously, the other umbrella organisation, the South African National Taxi Council, has also made it clear that it is not prepared to accept the Rea Vaya BRT system in its current form. Some taxi industry operators have threatened to kill if their livelihoods are threatened.
The government has given world football governing body Fifa an undertaking that the BRT system will be in place for the World Cup in a year’s time.
Moiloa warned yesterday that the test run for the transport system, which is scheduled to take place between now and the beginning of September, would not be changed unless there were problems related to infrastructure.
He also cautioned taxi operators that their opposition to the BRT should not include acts of lawless behaviour.