Durban – Taxi operators in the Pinetown area, directly impacted by the completed GO!Durban route between Pinetown and KwaMashu, have lost hope that the multi-million-rand project will ever get off the ground.
The operators said yesterday that they had not had any direct talks with the eThekwini Municipality about the project for more than a year.
Mathula Mkhize from the South African National Taxi Council Durban West region, said: “The last time we spoke to the municipality about this issue was last year.”
This contradicts a claim by the city that negotiations were under way to finalise matters which would pave the way for the project launch. The route, known as C3, was expected to go live earlier this year, however this did not take place and no new date has been set.
Mkhize said: “The project was based on negotiation, there were negotiations dating back to 2014. In the negotiations the industry was supposed to benefit, there were people that were supposed to be compensated, right now there are people who have surrendered their taxis and are now waiting with their certificates to be compensated.
“These changes have made the route unprofitable and as such some of the taxi operators lost their taxis as they were repossessed. It has caused tensions in the industry (because some people operate while others have lost everything) and that is why it seems like there is a stalemate with the project as some operators have vowed that certain things will never happen.”
He said the city and the taxi operators were far apart on the ownership issue, with the city wanting to keep control of the buses and the operators demanding a controlling stake in the buses.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city had proposed a revised approach for the implementation of GO!Durban, which was considered by the full council on July 27, and approved for public and stakeholder consultation.
“Once the consultation process, which is currently under way, is concluded, a report will be submitted to council, incorporating stakeholder inputs, for final approval of the revised approach for the implementation of Go!Durban.”
He added that therefore, “there has been no formal engagements with any of the affected operators pending approval by council of the revised approach”.
“Informal and formal (post July 27) engagements have been had with the representative structure of the minibus taxi industry in the city and the eThekwini Metro Taxi Council to advise on the revised approach and the consultation process approved by council. It is planned that consultation sessions on the revised approach will be held in all five regions.”
Several councillors from opposition parties on the Human Settlement and Infrastructure Services committee (HSI) which has oversight on the project, said they were not aware of any progress being made to launch the project.
DA councillor Melanie Brauteseth said GO!Durban was a year behind schedule.
“Last year October 2022, 22 buses were due to be put on the road as part of phase 1, C3 corridor of the roll-out programme to transport passengers from Pinetown to Bridge city. This has not gone ahead as planned.”
IFP councillor Mzwethu Gwala, who also sits on the HSI committee, said there was no report concerning the progress of GO!Durban.