BRT mainly owned by taxi operators

Monday, February 7, 2011
Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - The Rea Vaya Bus Operating Company, within the City of Joburg, is now majority owned and managed by former taxi industry operators.

Today, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele and the City of Joburg handed over the taxi industry shareholders Phase 1A Bus Operating Company of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system.

Speaking at the handing over in Johannesburg, Ndebele said: "No less than 66.7 percent of shareholders have relinquished their operating licenses and raised the 66.7 percent shareholding. Therefore, the Rea Vaya Bus Operating Company is now majority owned and managed by former taxi industry operators."

Each of the 316 shareholders was required to pay R54 000 from the proceeds of the scrapping or sale of their vehicle and some operators submitted more than one vehicle to be scrapped.

A database of one employee per affected vehicle has been developed and at least 200 previous taxi drivers have been employed as bus drivers, while a further 150 affected workers have been employed at Rea Vaya stations as station ambassadors and station marshals.

However, other affected employees are earmarked to be employed as part of the bus operating company, in cleaning as well as security contracts for the stations.

"Today we are celebrating a major milestone in the life of the taxi industry and of our country. We are reaffirming that this important industry which is owned, managed and controlled by black entrepreneurs will no longer be defined primarily by violence and disorder.

"Together, we are giving meaning to a future of peace, progress and prosperity for the taxi industry," he said.

The City of Joburg has signed a bus operating contract with the Bus Operating Company for a 12-year period and the value of the contract per year is approximately R184 million.

Apart from handing over the shareholders, there was also a launch of the scrapping of the vehicles which belong to the taxi operators who have now become part of the Rea Vaya BRT in Johannesburg.

Ndebele said the majority of shareholders raised their equity from scrapping their vehicles, making it the biggest single scrapping exercise undertaken in South Africa.

Sipho Khanyi's taxi was the first to be scrapped out of the 567 taxis. Looking at his taxi he bought in 2004, Khanyi said: "I am sad, but grateful at the same time because I strongly believe that being part of Rea Vaya is an empowerment. I was totally against the BRT system, but in 2009 February I developed a change of heart after the BRT concept was thoroughly explained to me. With this project, I strongly believe that I will sustain myself."