Msunduzi plans to start engagements with five local bus operators whose operating routes will be affected by the integrated road public transport network (IRPTN).In her recent report, the acting project head Lindelwa Mngenela said the intention of the IRPTN was to “transform the current public transport system of buses and mini bus taxis to a city-wide network solution”. The IRPTN plan consists of 17 km of dedicated bus and cycling lanes from Georgetown to Raisethorpe. The municipality started engagements with the taxi industry in 2013 and Mngenela said local bus companies were also primary public transport stakeholders in the IRPTN, therefore, their participation was necessary for the proper implementation of the project.“It is part of the grant [from the national Department of Transport] that technical and legal advisers be appointed to advise them with regards to the IRPTN project,” she said.She said it was anticipated that the existing operators would operate on the new road system following a process where they would have to form business entities such as bus operating companies (BOC). These companies would be contracted by the City for 12 years, as per the National Land Transport Act.She said operators will have the option to surrender their operating licences and operating vehicles in return for compensation and/or participation as shareholders in the BOC. She said it was envisaged that Msunduzi would ultimately enter into agreements with the bus operators, which would allow inter alia, for the incorporation of the BOC, compensation, employment arrangements and other businesses opportunities along the route.She said the City and the bus operators would sign a memorandum of agreement before engagements started. The agreement, which The Witness has seen, deals with protocols, funding, training and development as well as the formation of a task team to deal with issues affecting the project.She said the signing of the memorandum of agreement with the bus operators is at a critical stage so that formal engagements can start. These will cover the progress that has been achieved with the taxi operators to “ensure that the bus operators are also well-equipped to engage with the municipality during the negotiation stage,” said Mngenela.