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BRT operators call for legislation review as license tender renewal process looms

Sabrata is calling for the automatic renewal of the current bus operating companies contracts. Picture: Cara Viereckl.

Sabrata is calling for the automatic renewal of the current bus operating companies contracts. Picture: Cara Viereckl.

Published Dec 10, 2021

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OPERATORS under the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, the majority taxi owners who scrapped their vehicles and surrendered operating permits, are calling for a review of the BRT act as they are opposed to going through an open tender in a competitive bidding process when the first 12-year licences expire in June next year, and the next batch in February 2023.

The South African Bus Rapid Transit Association and Academy (Sabrata), whose members collectively is estimated at 10 000 businessmen, said yesterday that there were concerns in being expected to compete on an unequal and prejudicial basis.

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“Sabrata has concerns with the entry points for tender renewal as they are not equitable. In our view, there is no fairness and justice in such a process. The consequences of contract termination are dire for our members.

“For instance, one of the members would have 299 shareholders who will lose a guaranteed income, with taxi operators losing their jobs, and no chance of obtaining new taxi permits or gaining access to their old routes.

“Most of the promises made to our members by the government when they joined the BRT have not been fulfilled. For instance, there has been no transformation, minimal empowerment and no tangible value chain opportunities, despite a signed Value Chain Framework Agreement in some instances,” the organisation said in a statement yesterday.

The bus operating companies (BOCs) on the system across major South African cities include two in the City of Joburg (Pioneer Transport (Rea Vaya Phase 1A) and Litsamaiso (Rea Vaya Phase 1B), Tshwane Rapid Transit (A Re Yeng) in Tshwane, three in Cape Town being Kidrogen (MyCiti), N2 Express and Trans Peninsula Investments (MyCiti), George Link in George and KTVR (Harambe) in Ekurhuleni.

MyCiti chief executive Andile Peters said they were laying the groundwork before the government began the process, because if the first tranche expiries in June, municipalities are supposed to start in January 2022 the process of inviting bids for the next 12- year period.

“If we allow it to proceed, the whole concept of the BRT will be doomed. We will go to court if we have to go to court,” he said.

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Peters confirmed that at least two companies he was aware of had declared dividends of R84 million for its membership, which varied according to the company, with the number ranging in the hundreds per grouping.

Sabrata said it was calling for the automatic renewal of the current BOC contracts, while it engaged the government on the scrapping of the open tender system and creating a viable framework and legislation for future operations.

They said original contracts were not tendered contracts, but rather negotiated contracts with the taxi industry where several considerations were taken into account, including transformation and empowerment of the taxi industry.

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The programme of action, Peters said, included engagements with Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on halting the tender process and then the drawing up of a charter to map out a clear future for the BRT.

Sabrata also took a swipe at municipalities, saying that while it supported the continued expansion of current BRT networks and routes, it was concerned about municipalities not meeting contractual obligations regarding roll outs and route expansions, as this is limiting growth opportunities.

BRT networks are on the cards for other cities under the Integrated Public Transport Network umbrella: Joburg’s Rea Vaya Phase 1C, eThekwini, Polokwane, Mangaung, Msunduzi, Rustenburg, Mbombela, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan and Buffalo City.

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