Retired judge Jeremiah Shongwe was yesterday announced as the legal mind to head the Gauteng Public Transport Arbitration Office that will offer the public transport services industry an alternative dispute mechanism to curb incidents of violence.
MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo announced the appointment after publishing regulations to establish the arbitration office following incidents of violence and disruptions that have been hampering the sector from sustaining peace.
Mamabolo explained that the public transport industry has been plagued by incidences of violence for many years and confident that the appointment of the arbitration judge will assist in minimising conflicts.
“The appointment of the Judge as Public Transport Arbitrator is illustrative of the provincial government’s commitment to bringing stability in the public transport sector, especially the minibus taxi industry.
"This appointment further showcases government’s efforts to modernise the minibus taxi industry through the introduction of innovative ways of resolving disputes within the sector. This is in line with our Gauteng City Region’s Smart Mobility vision of integrating all public modes of transport in the province,” Mamabolo said.
The establishment of the Arbitration Office is the culmination of consultations with relevant stakeholders in the public transport industry following the Gauteng Taxi Industry Summit held in Emfuleni Local Municipality in July 2019.
The summit was convened by Mamabolo for the purpose of engaging with the minibus taxi industry to collectively address operational public transport issues.
It was resolved at the summit that a Commission of Inquiry be established to investigate factors that attributed to the conflicts, fatalities, and violence in the taxi industry.
The arbitration office will be responsible for arbitrating disputes and issuing arbitration awards to the affected parties. The arbitration awards will be binding and enforceable by law enforcement agencies.
MEC Mamabolo also welcomed the secondment of Gauteng Public Transport Intervention Unit from the Department of Community Safety to the Department of Roads and Transport as recommended by the Commission Inquiry into Taxi Violence.
"We welcome the secondment of the law enforcement unit to assist us with enforcing arbitration awards and addressing public transport related issues. Their secondment will empower the work of the arbitration office with a dedicated law enforcement arm to ensure that awards are implemented," he said.
Thirty-nine law-enforcement officials from the Public Transport Intervention Unit were seconded to the Department, July 1, to discharge public transport monitoring functions.