The National Taxi Alliance (NTA) was set to receive feedback on further protest action against the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system from its technical team on Wednesday, which could include options other than another potentially violent strike.

NTA spokesperson Mvuyisi Mente told the Cape Argus the technical committee, made up of lawyers and other professionals, would make a presentation to the executive committee on Wednesday, after which the issue would be handed over to the advisory committee. Only then would the association decide on the way forward.

“We are not hooligans, we are business people. We don’t like to strike, but (Cape Town mayor Helen) Zille is pushing us to do it. We also have other options, including legal action, disrupting the elections or just a stayaway,” said Mente.

These actions, said Mente, were all last resorts, and indicated the association was willing to compromise if Zille did the same.

Meanwhile, a Western Cape Taxi Council representative, who declined to be named for fear of being targeted, said they would not support any NTA protest action.

At the weekend, about 50 taxi drivers and operators disrupted a meeting called by Zille before squaring off with metro police officers inside the building. After being forced out, the taxi drivers gathered outside, protesting at the planned BRT system and threatening to cause havoc on election day next month.

The Western Cape Taxi Council representative added that they were mandated by their members to investigate the Integrated Rapid Transport system (IRT) of which BRT is a component, and the organisation had not yet signed or verbally agreed to anything yet.

Meanwhile, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa advised Zille to put the implementation of BRT system on hold until the national transport department had formalised all policies, and it had come to an agreement with the taxi industry as a whole.

“This was a national initiative, and there needs to be further and thorough consultation with the taxi industry. (Transport Minister Jeff) Radebe promised the industry a recapitalisation programme, a system which they had significant concerns about. But government forced it on them and led to huge expenses for industry participants,” said Holomisa.

Holomisa’s advice to the taxi industry was to go the legal route, and lodge an urgent application against the implementation, until there was more clarity on the issue.

PUBLICATION: (Cape Argus) (Page 3)
AUTHOR: Esther Lewis
DATED: 18th March 2009