A man plays music near Arpoador beach in Rio de Janeiro
DURBAN - PINETOWN taxi bosses believe the R2million trip to Brazil and Colombia planned by eThekwini Municipality to learn about their transport industry and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems is a futile exercise.

The municipality recently announced that it would send 54 delegates, comprising mostly taxi and bus operators and their representatives, on a fact-finding mission.

It was looking to engage with operating companies providing BRT services to learn first-hand how the transition and business processes were addressed.

It also said the trip would give taxi owners options on how to become part of the project.

However, it is still not clear from which associations the taxi owners were selected.

Bheki Mbambo, chairperson of Pinetown Taxi Association(PTA), said it was the most affected association, but the city has not engaged with it about the trip.

He said it was surprising that the city would spend R2m on the “holiday” while they have unresolved issues regarding the Go! Durban project. The municipality, through the eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA), is committed to the planning, development and roll-out of the Integrated Public Transport Networks in line with the Public Transport Strategy and Action Plan.

The municipality said the process was at an advanced stage, with the C3 Corridor, which runs from the north of Durban to Pinetown incorporating the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network GO! Durban and linking major residential areas, and is expected to be operational by October.

However, members of the PTA, who allegedly threatened the contractor and halted the construction in May, said they were unhappy with certain aspects of the development.

Mbambo claimed the ETA had failed to honour the memorandum of understanding that both parties signed prior to the development.

He said the city refused to divulge information on how the taxi industry would benefit from the multimillion-rand project.

Mbambo said the city had not engaged with them on compensation issues as the Go! Durban project would greatly impact their earnings.

“This money should go towards finding solutions to the problems,” said Mbambo.

City spokesperson Mandla Nsele conceded there were problems with the project.

He said several meetings had taken place between ETA officials, councillors and the representatives of the taxi industry to discuss and resolve the concerns.

“Most of their concerns have been addressed and some are going to be discussed and resolved at ongoing meetings that are chaired by an independent negotiations facilitator,” he said.

About the South American trip, Nsele did not divulge the exact number of taxi owners who would be touring or the associations they belonged to.