|Western Cape taxi bosses have given Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele one month to halt the roll-out of the integrated rapid transit (IRT) system in Cape Town – or face having key infrastructural projects destroyed.
Taxi drivers would take to the streets “en masse”, warned provincial National Taxi Alliance (NTA) spokesman Mvuyisi Mente, and destroy “every action of the government” ahead of the World Cup.
Thousands of taxi drivers from across the province gathered in Milnerton for a provincial NTA report-back yesterday, following a national meeting in Joburg last week.
Provincial NTA chairman Mandla Mata said the taxi body’s stance on the IRT remained unchanged.
“We don’t want BRT (bus rapid transit) here,” he said.
“There has been no consultation … We will not sit down like the operators in Gauteng did. We will fight until the BRT is done away with.”
The first phase of the BRT project in Joburg, which was launched earlier this month, links Soweto to the Joburg central business district and Ellis Park.
Mata also reported to members that the NTA’s national chairman, Sicelo Mabaso, had been unseated during last week’s national meeting.
“He (Mabaso) sold out the industry and started agreeing with the government on BRT. That’s why we decided to get rid of him,” he said. “An acting chairman was appointed and we will hold national elections soon to elect a new chairman.”
The national NTA office yesterday confirmed that deputy chairman Ben Huma was elected as the organisation’s acting chairman.
Mente said operators were enraged that infrastructural work on the IRT system was going ahead without the industry’s approval.
He said Ndebele had one month to stop all IRT construction in the city, and to “unpack” and explain how the system would benefit the industry.
“A month is still too long,” he said.
“If we are still in the dark in a month, we will destroy every action of the government. All the infrastructural work will be destroyed and innocent people will suffer. We have still not been consulted.”
Mente said the NTA would also go on a “tour” to mobilise commuters to boycott the new system if it was implemented.
“We will inform them and tell them what the new system will really mean,” he said.
“So many people are going to lose their jobs.”
At a meeting between the Transport Department, the city and the NTA last month, the department’s deputy director-general, George Mahlalela, said the government was committed to engaging all representatives of the public transport industry.
He said the government wanted to provide a public transport system that was focused on the needs of the customer through the provision of a safe, reliable and accessible public transport system, as well as creating a prosperous environment for public transport service providers.
The city’s media manager, Kylie Hatton, said although the full phase 1A of the IRT system would not be operational for the World Cup, some elements of the proposed new system would be used to implement the World Cup Transport Plan.
These elements included:
Hatton said that after the World Cup, an IRT service would be implemented on routes including:
The Transport Ministry was unavailable yesterday to comment on the NTA’s ultimatum.