BRT talks to be fast-tracked
Johannesburg - Taxi industry representation must be finalised to fast-track the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) negotiation process, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Friday.
"The local negotiation process will continue," he said in a statement after a briefing about the BRT system in Midrand.
This followed a national joint working group (NJWG) meeting with the taxi industry and civil society in Pretoria on Thursday.
"Johannesburg will be assisted to resolve issues around representation on the part of the taxi industry so that negotiations at local level can be fast-tracked."
Ndebele said the BRT subcommittee of the NJWG would also "move speedily" to develop a national framework clearly spelling out the taxi industry's role in BRT projects.
"Such a framework will guide negotiations in all other BRT-implementing cities through lessons learnt from the City of Johannesburg."
Thursday's meeting was attended by representatives from national, provincial and local government.
The taxi sector was represented by the SA National Taxi Council.
Civil society representatives included the SA National Civic Organisation, SA Commuter Organisation and the SA Disability Alliance.
The unions, SA Transport and Allied Workers Union and SA Municipal Workers Union, also attended.
Ndebele said all parties at the meeting had pledged their commitment to the NJWG process agreeing to resolve issues through negotiation and not through violence, intimidation or threats.
A framework to guide the implementation of integrated rapid transport networks by local government would also be finalised shortly.
This would look at how to recruit labour and include existing transport operators.
Cost-cutting measures for the implementation of BRT would be sought in areas like business models, empowerment models, negotiation processes and links with public transport projects.
Ndebele said a memorandum of agreement would be adopted at another meeting held in two weeks.
Government remained "fully committed to implementing the BRT system in partnership with the taxi industry.
"Through the NJWG, we will continue our intensive engagement with the taxi industry, civil society and other relevant stakeholders."
Ndebele said national police commissioner Bheki Cele had given the assurance that police were "working round the clock" to arrest people travelling in a taxi, who on Tuesday night shot at a BRT bus travelling in Soweto. Two people, a passenger and a police officer were wounded.
He said the transport sector had to prepare for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
"Without adequate transport, there will be no fans in the stadium. Without fans inside the stadium, there is no World Cup."
A variety of transport, including taxis, would be used.
Plans needed to be tight. "We have no doubt that we can do it," he said.