Protecting BRT drivers a top priority

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pretoria - The City of Joburg and the relevant departments have made it a top priority to protect drivers of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, its stations and commuters.

This after a house of one of the Rea Vaya drivers was petrol bombed in Chiawelo, Soweto on Tuesday night. However, the bus driver and his family survived the incident with no injuries.

City spokesperson, Nthatisi Modingoane, said the petrol bomb only caused minor damages to the dining room. No one has been arrested..

"The City would also like to assure the drivers and the members of the public that together with the Metro Police, provincial Community Safety Department and the South African Police Services, we will take all possible steps to minimize the risk of attacks on the Rea Vaya staff, buses and stations," said Modingoane.

Reacting to the attack Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said: "Such attacks on the lives of innocent citizens cannot be allowed to continue."

Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Khabisi Mosunkutu,said his department would do everything in its power to apprehend the perpetrators of the attack.

Attacks on BRT drivers, commuters and stations are thought to have been fuelled by taxi operators who are not happy with the expansion of BRT routes.

The Rea Vaya drivers are presently employed by Clidet, an interim company, until an agreement is reached with affected minibus taxi operators who will be offered shareholding in a new bus operating company.

Since the beginning of the taxi strike, Rea Vaya buses have been running smoothly but with both the South African Police and Johannesburg Metro Police keeping a close watch.

On Wednesday, the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) announced that about 68 of their members striking against the implementation of the new routes of the BRT have been arrested in Johannesburg.

"Rea Vaya drivers and their families have again become a target of unscrupulous people who choose the path of violence rather than negotiations.

"Drivers who have made the effort and up-skilled themselves to serve the people of Johannesburg should be commended and not attacked," the City said on Thursday,