Taxi operators “completely misunderstood” Jacob Zuma on his pronouncement on the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit on the eve of last month’s general elections, the president’s spokesperson said yesterday.

“President Jacob Zuma was misinterpreted on what he said to the taxi people,” said Zizi Kodwa.

“You remember that he met them just two weeks before the elections. Taxi operators had submitted a memorandum to government and the ANC.

“The president suggested that we (first) give elections a chance and talk once a new government was elected.”

Kodwa was responding to calls by the United Taxi Associations Forum (Utaf) on Zuma to deliver on his pre-election promise to them.

Utaf says Zuma had told them he would “halt proceedings” on BRT until the new government assumed office.

Zuma was quoted as saying: “Hold your horses. Wait until the new administration is in place for us to address your concerns.”

Kodwa said Zuma had the “taxi industry at heart. He understands taxi issues very well”.

He said the president planned to meet with the new Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele to discuss the matter.

Utaf spokesperson Joe Mophuting has denied having misunderstood Zuma.

“When Zuma said we must wait, he meant that everything had to wait. While we are waiting BRT are continuing with building the infrastructure.”

Taxi owners warned this week that there would be trouble if BRT went ahead.

WHAT THE BUS RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM IS ABOUT:

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will have dedicated lanes on main roads that will allow a constant stream of big buses to whizz through the city.

The plan is for buses to run no more than 10 minutes apart and connect areas as far apart as Regina Mundi in Soweto in the south and Sandton in the north.

The BRT system will have 122km of trunk routes and 150 stations half a kilometre apart. Long, articulated multi-part buses would traverse the trunk routes and be supplemented by smaller buses/minibuses.

Joburg residents can view a model station of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit in the city centre, at Edith Cavell Street in Joubert Park.

The station prototype has three doors that will open on to the same level as the bus to allow disabled people easy access, has a rest area, audio and visual aids for those who are visually and audio impaired, CCTV cameras, route maps and a ticket booth.