The Gauteng government will spend as much as R90m on a transport service that will carry fans to and from Confederations Cup soccer games in the province.

The service, outlined yesterday, will employ up to 450 buses and 3000 taxis to carry fans to stadiums in Pretoria and Johannesburg. Pick-up points will be as far apart as Sharpeville in the south, Krugersdorp in the west, OR Tambo airport in the east and Pretoria East in the north.

The service will cost between R50m and R90m depending on the final number of taxis used, said Nkululeko Buthelezi, CEO of the agency implementing the Gauride programme.

“On Saturday, when they are submitting the cars, we will know the cost,” Buthelezi said at a presentation outlining the programme. The scheme complements the iTransie 2 Ellispark service outlined by the city of Johannesburg last week.

The service will pay R1400 to owners of 10 to 14 seater minibus taxis and R1800 to owners of 20- seater “midibuses” for each of the 16 days that they are used during the tournament. It will also provide the basis for greater co-operation between the largely informal taxi industry and formal services, MEC for roads and transport Bheki Nkosi said yesterday.

“In provision of public transport there has to be interoperability and a seamless service to the citizen,” Nkosi said. “We have to get buy-in from all stakeholders. This relationship with taxis, bus and other transport providers is something we are working to strengthen and ensure that, whatever we do, there is co-operation.”

All taxis seconded for the Gauride service are less than three years old and drivers used for the service will wear a uniform. The drivers have been trained in etiquette, first aid and in showing passengers places of interest.

“I have confidence in the drivers,” Nkosi said. “I have confidence they will act as ambassadors for our country and our province.”

Nnotho Sehanka, Vaal region chairman of the Gauteng National Taxi Alliance (GNTA), said the notoriously divided industry was now united and willing to make the event a success.

“From the industry side we are more than prepared to make sure that this wonderful occasion becomes a success,” he said. “Here in Gauteng we say the GNTA and Gataco (historical rival Gauteng Taxi Council) are one. We are trying to make sure we are all speaking with one voice.”

Buthelezi’s South African Transport Solutions, a company established in 2006, will administer the programme for the provincial government. On Saturday it will take control of all taxis taking part in the programme, manage them for the duration of the Confederations Cup and process payments to the individual owners.

PUBLICATION: (Business Day)
AUTHOR: Michael Bleby
DATED: 11th June 2009