Port Elizabeth - Nelson Mandela Bay Taxi Operators belonging to Laphum’ilanga Transport Services have given the Ministers of Transport and Finance as well as Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle until Wednesday, February 8, to respond to their call for the investigation of IPTS (Integrated Public Transport System) operations.This was announced by Laphum’ilanga Directors and representatives of some taxi associations not happy with the direction the IPTS was taking which they argued was fraught with undermining the country’s supreme law - the Constitution.Laphum’ilanga is the business arm and negotiating body of the taxi industry in the metro, and was formed in 2009. They claim to have worked hard since then to unite the previously divided industry and were not prepared to see it turn back to the past.The operators claim the IPTS office in the metro was applying a divide and rule strategy, creating mistrust and tension among taxi operators while they, as the rightful representatives of operators, were fighting for a proper, safe and reliable transport for the benefit of the people.“Of the ten registered associations, the metro municipality, under the new dispensation, persuaded two associations to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with them and left in the lurch eight associations who would not be coerced,” said Julius Jonono, one of Laphum’ilanga’s directors.They claim they were not provided with copies of the MOA which they say was aimed at destroying what they’ve worked hard for. According to them, they were not even allowed to make inputs in the MOA.“We have written to the National Department of Transport, National Treasury and the Premier of the Eastern Cape requesting their urgent intervention into the IPTS project in the metro,” said CEO Gregory Rockman, adding that if they did not get a response in time, they would seek legal advice or resort to “protracted” industrial action “to protect our rights.”According to the Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Road and Transport, Councillor Rano Kayser, the associations that signed the MOA were actually four. By Thursday, he said, they were on the verge of signing the fifth one.“It is not true that authorities were dividing the industry. We are only aligning ourselves with the provisions of Section 41(1) of the Land and Transport Act which says the Municipality may sign the MOA with operators,” said Kayser, adding that the Act did not talk about the business entity but the associations.He said the previous regime omitted that provision in relation with the provisions of the law.The MMC emphasised that according to the law, the people who were to benefit from the IPTS were the operators and that as the municipality, they were not supposed to contradict a directive from legislation.On Monday, January 30, Councillor Kayser had a meeting with representatives of the taxi associations. At the time of going to print, no feedback had been received.