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27 Aug 2009 11:13
The government warned the taxi industry on Thursday it would push ahead with the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system and would not tolerate violent protest from minibus operators.
“The law enforcement agencies will not hesitate to take strong action against those who either threaten or perpetrate any form of violence,” Cabinet said in statement issued after its fortnightly meeting on Wednesday.
“While the right to protest by those who are unhappy about the BRT is respected, this right cannot be exercised at the expense of law abiding citizens who have an equal right to a safe, punctual and efficient ride between home and work.”
The warning follows a threat by taxi operators to go on strike again next Tuesday in protest at the BRT, which is expected to start running in Johannesburg next week.
Earlier on Thursday, the United Taxi Association Forum lodged legal papers in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to have the launch of the BRT system suspended.
Forum spokesperson Ralph Jones told the SABC they wanted the court to suspend the BRT system until proper talks had taken place.
“What we are saying is, park this whole thing until such a time that we have all spoken,” he said.
“Everybody is saying that they have been talking to the taxi industry, but the taxi industry is saying, you are not talking to us,” Jones said.
The government reiterated that it appreciated the contribution the taxi industry had made “over many decades in moving South Africans around the country” and said it had worked hard to ensure it was not marginalised by the new bus system.
“All cities that are implementing the BRT system have made unequivocal commitments to ensure that the affected operators are consulted and become an integral part of the BRT.”—Sapa
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