The City of Johannesburg and public transport operators have put pen to paper, agreeing to work together towards faster, safer and more lucrative public transport.
Operators working between Sandton, Alexandra, the inner City, Midrand and Ivory Park signed a negotiation framework agreement, opening the way for starting negotiations on the City’s R2.2 billion planned investment into the expansion of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT). This investment will impact operators on the same routes. Along with the agreement, a memorandum of understanding was also signed.
Attempting to win the confidence of taxi associations and bus operators in the area, Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba praised the industry for being the cheapest way to get around in Joburg.
“I am excited to work with an industry that defied [the economic constraints] of Apartheid and the new South Africa,” said Mashaba.
The agreement was signed by Mashaba and representatives of the different associations including Top Six Taxi Management, the Gauteng branch of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), Putco and various taxi associations north-east of Joburg.
“This expansion will be through the planned introduction of the third phase of the BRT which will contribute significantly to the movement of people who work and live in the City of Johannesburg. One of the biggest obstacles to employment is people’s ability to access efficient transport.
The introduction of the third phase of BRT will make it easier for many of our residents, particularly those from our previously forgotten communities, to connect to needed economic opportunities,” Mashaba said.
“I firmly believe that a well-functioning public transport system, coupled with good road mobility, is a critical component to a functioning City.”
Santaco’s Gauteng chairperson, Ralph Jones, said the documents which were signed show that taxi associations have come a long way. But he believed there is still a lot to be done and a lot of issues are still outstanding and need to be discussed.
“We are prepared to move forward, but we need to benefit from this at the end of the day,” he said.
The mayor said he understood that taxi owner need to make money and he supports the industry which is ‘a crucial part of transport in South Africa’. He did, however, mention the safety of passengers, emphasising that fatalities need to be avoided.
“In the negotiations, we will look at certain privileges [for taxis], but the rule of law needs to be followed.”