Gauteng Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo announced the appointment of retired Judge Jeremiah Shongwe as the head of the provincial Public Transport Arbitration Office on Thursday.
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.
Mamabolo published regulations to establish the Gauteng Public Transport Arbitration Office as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism within the public transport services industry in the province following several incidents of violence and disruptions in the sector.
He said the public transport industry had been plagued by incidences of violence for many years and was confident that the appointment of the arbitration judge would 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,” said Mamabolo.
“This appointment showcases the 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,” he said.
The establishment of the arbitration office was the culmination of consultations with stakeholders in the public transport industry that followed the Gauteng Taxi Industry Summit held at Emfuleni Local Municipality, Vaal, in July 2019.
The summit was convened by Mamabolo to engage 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.
Mamabolo also welcomed the secondment of the 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,” Mamabolo said.
A total of 39 law enforcement officials from the Public Transport Intervention Unit were seconded to the department on July 1 this year to discharge public transport monitoring functions.