/ 2 September 2009

Taxi council distances itself from BRT shooting

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) on Wednesday distanced itself from a bus rapid transit (BRT) shooting incident in Soweto which left two people wounded.

”It has never been Santaco’s objective to engage in a disruptive and violent activity as this would defeat the very basis of our argument.

”It [the shooting] does not reflect on our position of
constructive engagement to resolve differences,” said spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa on Wednesday.

Both the taxi and bus rapid transit services were running normally with no disruptions reported on Wednesday.

City of Johannesburg’s mayoral committee member for transport Rehana Moosajee said Rea Vaya passenger volumes were the same on Wednesday as Tuesday, adding that security measures had been beefed up.

This included police officers on all buses and police vehicles accompanying the buses.

Moosajee said they would ensure a safe journey for everyone using their buses.

Meanwhile, police said they were still searching for unidentified gunmen travelling in a Toyota Quantum who opened fire on a Rea Vaya bus injuring a police officer and a passenger near the Nancefield hostel on Tuesday evening.

The hostel was later raided by police in a bid to find the perpetrators.

The five-hour raid, which began at midnight led to the arrest of six men — one was shot in the leg after shooting at police, said Inspector Kay Makhubela.

Two of those arrested were sought for murder in Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal, two were in possession of unlicensed firearms and two were found with dagga.

Taxi operators embarked on a go-slow on Monday to protest against the BRT project. Some taxi operators perceive this more streamlined bus service as a threat to their business.

However, they agreed to resume operations on Tuesday until a report back meeting with government scheduled for Thursday.

The first phase of the BRT project in Johannesburg, which was launched on Sunday, links Soweto to the Johannesburg central business district and Ellis Park.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said they remained committed to implementing the BRT system in partnership with all stakeholders, especially the taxi industry.

Condemning the shooting, Ndebele said any issues of concern must be addressed through the National Joint Working Group.

”We want to reiterate that the interest of the commuter remains paramount,” he said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also repeated the call for zero tolerance towards anyone who threatens or uses violence against BRT staff and passengers.

”There can be absolutely no justification for trying to force the buses off the road through violence and intimidation.

”The new system is a very welcome move towards a safer, faster and more punctual and user-friendly form of public transport which has already proved very popular with commuters,” it said.

The federation called for the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for Tuesday night’s shooting and ”strong action” against anyone found guilty of using or threatening violence. — Sapa