First phase of BRT to go ahead - deputy minister

By Chris Bathembu

Johannesburg - Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin said on Thursday that government wanted to see the first phase of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, up and running.

"We have to stick to deadlines so the city-led operations will continue," said Mr Cronin.

He said this was especially so in Johannesburg where the city was sitting on a tight deadline in terms of financial obligations and the first phase was expected to be up and running by the end of August.

He was speaking at a media briefing following a meeting with the South African National Taxi Council where it was decided that a National Joint Working Group on Public Transport would be set up.

The working group will meet from next week for a series of engagements in a bid to find lasting solutions and allay the fears of the taxi industry regarding the BRT.

It will also deal with operational matters and the role of taxi operators and how they will be part of the process.

The team will be expected to draft an economic empowerment plan, discuss licensing and regulatory problems and formulate a training and capacity building programme to benefit the taxi industry.

This National Working Group on Public Transport will drive the BRT system, operational matters and the role of taxi operators and how they will be part of the process.

The industry had earlier this year held violent protests over the system, claiming that it would lead to job losses.

Mr Cronin said while government understood the concerns of the taxi operators, it remained confident that BRT will not have any negative effects on the operations of the industry.

"There will be no job losses and there will be no loss of work," he said.