company that will run the City of Johannesburg’s controversial Bus Rapid
Transit System’s (BRT) for at least 12 years.
This appears to be the key factor that led to the 11th hour
compromise to solve the long-standing and often deadly impasse between the
industry and the government days before the 2010 Soccer World Cup kicked off on
The agreement – which is part of ongoing negotiations to reach a
final settlement – was signed by Johannesburg City Mayor Amos Masondo, Top Six
Taxi Association chairperson Sicelo Mabaso and BRT steering committee
chairperson Eric Motshwane on Tuesday.
Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele hailed it as a “historic agreement”
that went to the heart of what the government was trying to achieve with its
integrated rapid transport network in towns and cities.
The deal, which will see nearly half of the 1?200 taxis operating
between Johannesburg and Soweto replaced by 143 Rea Vaya buses, has been
embraced by most taxi owners.
The deal is a culmination of nine months of heated negotiations
between an industry worried about loss of income and a government determined
to formalise the sector and give commuters transport choice.
Taxi bosses said that they were confident that the milestone
agreement, rejected by the majority of affected taxi drivers and queue
marshals, would spell the end of BRT-related taxi violence that has already
claimed at least two lives and led to about a dozen people being injured during
drive-by shootings by gunmen opposed to BRT.
An excited Motshwane said: “The offer entails the fact that you
will no more have to operate taxis and you will be paid the rate per kilometre
that has been agreed upon for 12 years, without any taxi-related stress such as
an accident, a breakdown or theft of taxis.”
He added that they would outsource the management functions of the
bus operating company.
Mabaso said it was a coincidence that the deal had been struck just
before the 2010 kick-off.
“That on its own is history and we are the catalysts to get into
this kind of business and obviously we won’t be last,” he said.
He added he did not know whether the deal would end BRT-related
violence because he was unaware of what had triggered the shootings in the
While Motshwane maintained those opposed to BRT had the right to
voice their concerns, he said the
“transformation of public transport is
“We must be able to compete with international standards and can’t
be held back by warlords.”
City’s portfolio head of transport, Rehana Moosajee, confirmed that
the taxi industry would own and operate the BRT operating company but insisted
“that was always the intention”.
She said a 2006 study done by the city provided for ownership of
the bus-operating company by the taxi industry.
But Moosajee said that the city would ensure the taxi industry had
an acceptable plan and the necessary capacity.