R8 billion spent on Go!Durban bus project, but still no movement

Go! Durban bus station in Pinetown. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Go! Durban bus station in Pinetown. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 24, 2023


The eThekwini Municipality has not yet gotten the Go!Durban bus project off the ground, despite already pumping some R8 billion into it.

The service is meant to provide low-cost transport for commuters to move around the city.

The full implementation of Go!Durban bus project will likely cost around R30 billion over a 20 to 30 year period, the City confirmed.

The City of eThekwini recently announced that the Queen Nandi Bus terminal, which was meant to be a part of Go!Durban bus project, will be used as an “art centre”.

The Twitter post by the eThekwini Municipality regarding the Queen Nandi terminal getting used as an art centre. Picture: Screenshot

If Go!Durban bus project is successfully launched, the local mini-bus taxi operators could lose out on their livelihoods and income to support their families, according to Santaco KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Sifiso Shangase.

This puts the municipality between a rock and a hard place.

Shangase said the ramifications stemming from the successful implementation of Go!Durban would have severely impacted the organisation’s stake in public transportation and thus entered a negotiation with the municipality.

Shangase also indicated the City had appointed and funded a team of experts to advise Santaco on the best way forward in terms of business.

The taxi industry and the Municipality are reportedly in talks to make a compromise and work on implementing Go!Durban bus project together.

“Santaco conducted a trip overseas to see how this type of project, when implemented, affected taxi operators. We went to countries like Brazil, and Bogota in Columbia. The outcome of this did not yield positive results for taxi operators.

“The whole issue was around compensation for the license. These operating licenses are property of the government, so we are not allowed to sell them.

“Also, we have been in the business so many years, we cannot just move out without being given reasonable compensation to sustain our livelihoods.

“Now what is happening, because we as taxi operators do not have the skills in terms of accounting and law, the Municipality has appointed a team of experts to advise us on the best way forward,” Shangase said.

Opposition party in the City, the Democratic Alliance (DA), led by provincial head Dean Macpherson, believes that the Go!Durban bus project did not materialise because the taxi industry held a gun to the City’s head.

“This would then be an admission that the city has given up on ever implementing GO! Durban and should just come out and say that. Every single bus stop has 24 hour security which costs the city millions of Rands per year without a single bus running.

“The city will also bend over backwards to protect invested interests like the taxi industry at the expense of residents,” Macpherson said.

City spokesperson, Lindiwe Khuzwayo confirmed that a new approach was taken in hopes of successfully implementing the project, whereby it presented taxi operators with ways they could benefit from the Go! Durban bus project.

She said the R8 billion spent so far was to cover land acquisitions, road, station and terminal infrastructure development, GPS location tracking systems, fare management systems, CCTV, and fleet conversions, to name a few.

“A resolution of this approval was for the City to present business and operations plans aligned with the revised approach. The business and operations plans will be presented at Council for approval later this year, thereafter, the City will prioritise the finalisation of the phase one BRT service contracts (C3, C1 and C9) and these services will commence,” Khuzwayo said.

IOL also asked the municipality why the Queen Nandi terminal was turned into an art project, to which Khuzwayo said it was part of a “Transit Oriented Development (TOD)”.

“TOD involves the revitalisation of station precincts such as public space, heritage and urban renewal, for example, mass clean-ups, addressing security issues and socio-economic community development projects such as the Arts project in the short term,” the City spokesperson said.

According to Bethuel Manthoadi, senior official in the eThekwini Transport Authority, the Go! Durban bus project will be launched in February 2024, IOL previously reported.