Deal will halve taxis on Joburg route

2010-06-08 21:41

Johannesburg – Nearly half the minibus taxis operating between Soweto and Ellis Park will be removed from Johannesburg's roads, Mayor Amos Masondo announced on Tuesday.

In return for handing in the vehicles, the taxi owners would get shares in a new bus operating company.

"This project is about transformation, it seeks to improve the quality of life of commuters and residents," he told reporters in Johannesburg.

According to the agreement, 585 minibus taxis would be removed from the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system's 25.5km route between Soweto and Ellis Park stadium.

Pete Harris, who is the head of the facilitation team between taxi operators and the city, said there were currently about 1 200 taxis operating on that route.

"The taxis will be handed in and exchanged for money to buy shares (in the bus operating company)," said Harris.

The chairperson of the Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council, Eric Motshwane, said the taxi owners would get between R50 000 and R60 000 for a taxi.

Permitted to sell taxis

The 585 shareholders would then not be allowed to put another taxi out on that route.

However, they would be permitted to sell one taxi and keep another already operating on that route because the agreement was not meant to replace the taxi transport system.

The shareholders signed a negotiation closure agreement on Friday.

The bus operating company would be formally constituted "soon", said Sicelo Mabaso, chairperson of the Top Six Taxi Association.

All shareholders would be required to formally accept a written offer from the City.

Board members and managers were yet to be appointed.

If everything went according to plan, the current bus operating company, Clidet, would formally hand over to the new company on September 1.

Agreement welcomed

A message from Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele was read out at the event.

"We would like to salute the commitment, far-sightedness and courage shown by the minibus operators and their associations who have stuck with this process over several years, often in the face of threats and intimidation," said Ndebele.

Democratic Alliance leader for Johannesburg, Vasco da Gama, on Tuesday welcomed the agreement, saying it would put to rest safety and security fears surrounding the bus system.

Fears that there would be disruptions to the bus service during the World Cup, could now be put aside due to the agreement, he said.

"Since the system became operational (in) August 2009, several incidents of violence and intimidation have threatened the possible future success of the project," Da Gama said in a statement.

"We can now move ahead with the swift transition of the Rea Vaya from the city to the bus operating company where the shareholders will be predominantly existing taxi operators."