Doubts on BRT system

2014-08-04 00:00

MARITZBURG citizens came looking for answers but left with more questions.

That was the outcome of a packed public meeting on the city’s planned Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system held at the Northdale Civic Centre last week.

Kantha Naidoo, one of the attendees, simply did not believe the municipality — with what she described as its track record of inefficiency — would be able to pull it off.

Hers was one of several comments, voicing mistrust of the municipality and frustration over the lack of information on the project.

A contingent of business owners from Church Street came to find out how the BRT would impact their businesses. There were cries of disbelief when they were told by the consultants running the meeting that Church Street was to be dealt with in a separate process.

Last week’s meeting was part of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project, relating to the terminals in Raisethorpe and Edendale.

The consultants from a Durban-based company — Strategic Environmental Focus (SEF) left the audience frustrated when not all questions that were asked were answered. The questioners were told they would be sent a written responses.

Businessman Shabeer Hoosen said businesses were in favour of the BRT, but they were concerned that they were being fed information in bits and pieces. This did not allow them to see the bigger picture.

He also questioned why the municipality was using a Durban-based consultancy instead of a local company. He said the aim of such a large project like the BRT should be on job creation within Msunduzi and the money should stay in the city.

Ashin Singh of the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem) wanted to know what raw data informed the planning for the BRT. He said nobody that they knew of had been given questionnaires or been part of market research.

Singh said if the information was not forthcoming, his organisation would consider applying to get it under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Newly appointed president of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce, Leo Quayle, asked what opportunities there would be for local businesses with the BRT.

Msunduzi Action Forum (MRF) chairperson Dev Naidoo asked how the city’s infrastructure would sustain the system.

He also wanted to know what proportion of the project would be funded by city ratepayers.

Councillor Rooksana Ahmed said there was a proposal that minibus taxi operators could be paid off for their businesses.

“What will happen to their employees, the kombi drivers and the bus conductors?” she asked.


V Rooksana Ahmed

“What will happen to their employees, the kombi drivers and the bus conductors?”

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