Taxi bosses give Go!Durban thumbs up

Cllr James Nxumalo and Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo chat at the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between eThekwini municipality and minibus taxi operators as part of the Go!Durban project.

ETHEKWINI municipality and the minibus taxi industry signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the Go!Durban project on Valentine’s Day 14 February in the Moses Mabhida presidential suite.

According to eThekwini’s Transport Authority Head, Thami Manyathi, the development of the agreement has been “A long labour of love.”

“The document represents the true intent of the partnership between the city and taxi operators.” It was signed by the Mayor, James Nxumalo and the minibus taxi industry leadership, that would be potentially be affected by Phase One of the Go!Durban Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN).

The MoA is a commitment from both parties to engage and negotiate in good faith and set of roles and responsibilities of each party in the project.

“In June 2011, the city started engagements with the leadership of the minibus taxi industry to be part of a consultation process about their possible participation in the IRPTN project. Care and due diligence has been exercised particularly with those operators that have been previously disadvantaged, to become part of the new bus operating company,” said Nxumalo.

The mayor added that the city recognised that a significant effort was required to support those operators to be able to run viable and sustainable bus operating companies in the interest of service delivery and good governance.

Vusi Ndlovu, of the South African Taxi Workers Association (SATWO), said he fully supported the Go!Durban IRPTN plan and hoped it would “change the image of the (taxi) industry.”

Since the inception of Go!Durban, the IRPTN, the city has been committed to implementing the new public transport system in partnership with all the affected public transport operators, including the minibus taxi industry. With work constantly on the go with key elements in place and working well, this year saw dedicated transport lanes, the Muvo card ticketing system and the growing network of cycle lanes and pedestrian walking routes.

For now, the municipality has embarked on a rapid acceleration of work, towards their 2016 and 2018 deadlines, for the first four corridors to be up and running. The next step will be the awarding of six contracts to the value of R3 billion while the first contractor is already on site.

A wall-to-wall network plan including strategies, plans and projects integrating specialist and supporting work streams will unlock Go!Durban, creating nine transport corridors linked by various modes of transport including bus, rail and taxi.

MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said, “This is a major milestone for in the history of eThekwini. Durban is the first city in South Africa that started on an integrated transport plan where walking, cycling, taxis and trains come together. It will bring employment opportunities for the next few years.”

Lorna Charles

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