Taxi bosses have warned of a ‘taxi war’ over the City of Cape Town’s planned multi-billion rand Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system which is set to change the face of public transport in the city. While the City has stated its aim to complete phase one of the BRT by March 2010, three Taxi Associations operating in the greater Blaauwberg region released a joint statement on Thursday saying the way city transport planners were implementing the system was “unacceptable”.
The taxi owners representing the Ysterplaat Taxi Association (YTA), Maitland Taxi Association (Mata) and Du Noon Taxi Association (DTA) said they had been invited to a meeting at the city civic centre offices on Tuesday where the BRT system was explained.
But DTA spokesperson Terrence Mhlangatshoba said they walked out of Tuesday’s meeting as the BRT system undermined their business and did not take into account what they had invested over the years.
Itshaan Stanfield, appointed spokesman for the three taxi associations, said they would have not part of the BRT system.
“The city is bombarding us with attractive presentations on BRT and we are not buying it. We have given them our demands but they are not responding so we are not going to be part of any of it,” said Stanfield.
However, he did not reveal exactly what the taxi associations’ demands were.
He said the way the city was going about trying to gather support from the taxi industry for the BRT was dividing the taxi industry and would lead to violence.
“We know for a fact that this process will lead to bloodshed between permit holders and people without permits. The blame will be on the city, it will be held accountable,” he said.
“The city must stay away from us. We have come a long way with this business. They must rather invest their millions in building houses for millions of people who are living in shacks.”
City director of transport Maddie Mazaza said the city had been engaging with the taxi industry “in detail and on different levels” and was “committed to pursuing this process of engagement”.
Mazaza said all exchanges so far had been “frank and open”.
She said the city was not aware of anyone walking out of meetings without excusing themselves and was confident a “real win-win” agreement between the city and taxi industry could be found and engagement with the minibus-taxi industry would be ongoing.
The city first unveiled its plans for the BRT system on 1 May this year.
According to the city’s website, the first phase is projected to cost R2.8-billion and be completed before the 2010 World Cup.
Phase one will cover the city’s central business district, with a trunk route to Du Noon in the north and a link to the Cape Town International Airport.
The BRT system is to be expanded to other parts of the city after 2010.
* Reporting by Peter Luhanga. Published in the Sunday Argus and City Press, 23 November 2008.