Nelson Mandela Bay commuters can expect to be stranded again next week when taxi associations embark on a threatened five-day strike following failed attempts to get a “positive response” from the municipality regarding their objections over the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

At a meeting at Nangoza Jebe Hall last night, disgruntled members of taxi associations and workers‘ unions including Cosatu, Satawu, Natowa, Samwu and the SACP resolved to hold the strike over five days, which would be stretched over three weeks.

The associations are against the Bus Rapid Transit system for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, which they claim will not create a legacy for the region as mayor Nondumiso Maphazi had mentioned.

The first two days of the strike are planned for November 13 and 14, followed by November 20 and 21. The last date of the proposed strike is November 27, after which the associations and the unions have threatened to embark on an indefinite stay away.

Zukile Jodwana, chairman of the transport forum which was recently formulated to lead the anti-BRT campaign, said they had taken the decision following Maphazi‘s response to the memorandum they handed over two weeks ago.

“In her response to our memorandum, the mayor said it would be irresponsible of the municipality to stop the process.”

Jodwana said Maphazi‘s response showed that she did not take the interests of taxi owners seriously.

The forum disputed Maphazi‘s claim that she had consulted broadly with the public about the BRT.

“We are members of the public, but we were not consulted and we were never part of any meetings that were held.”

Jodwana pleaded with taxi associations to unite.

“They will devise means to divide us, therefore we need to intensify the struggle,” he said.

Union members present at the meeting also vowed to help taxi associations in their fight against the BRT system.

At least three people were arrested and several shots were fired during a protest by taxi associations, which left thousands of commuters stranded two weeks ago.

PUBLICATION: The Herald Online
AUTHOR: Nomahlubi Sonjica
DATED: 4th November 2008