The City of Cape Town extended its current contract with the N2 Express Joint Venture (JV) Vehicle Operating Company and the new agreement signifies a milestone achievement where taxi associations will begin to take charge of the current operations of the four MyCiTi routes in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha.
Mitchell’s Plain taxi association, Route 6 Taxi Association, is one of the operators who will take control over the operations of the N2 Express service, after it had proved itself over a period of five years of negotiation, training, capacity building and monitoring.
Chairperson of Route 6 Taxi Association, Henry “Hawk” Williams, from Portland, said this was a lifelong goal.
Speaking to the Plainsman on Friday March 2, he said: “We’ve been released from our shackles.”
The N2 Express JV Vehicle Operating Company was formed by the Route 6 Taxi Association, the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA) in Khayelitsha and the Golden Arrow Bus Service (GABS) prior to the roll-out of the four MyCiTi routes to the Metro South-east in July 2014.
The City said they have amended the current operating contract which was extended and which will see the taxi associations who are part of the JV begin to incrementally take over the operations of the N2 Express service from GABS.
The taxi association started taking over the operations of the N2 Express service from GABS on Thursday March 1.
Up until last week GABS had fulfilled this function and responsibilities. “We have been empowered to take legal counsel and with a better understanding of the National Land Transport Act and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, we were able to stay the course,” Mr Williams said.
“It defined our rights as a people who were previously oppressed during the apartheid regime, and gives us leeway in the future of empowerment,” he said.
Originally 44 Mitchell’s Plain taxi drivers received preferential employment opportunities in the MyCiTi service.
They were trained at GABS Learning and Assessment Centre in Montana and had their licences upgraded from Code 8 to Code 11.
The training cost of about R29 200 a student was paid for by the City.
All of the trainees were offered employment as MyCiTi bus drivers once they had passed a diagnostic assessment, learner’s licence test, driver’s licence test and route and product training.
Mr Williams said this enabled drivers, who were earning about R12 000 a month, as well as benefits.
Those taxi drivers who did not qualify for the MyCiTi bus driver training because they did not have a Grade 10 qualification were assisted by the City with an Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) course, which focussed on numeracy and literacy.
This was with the objective of uplifting candidates’ educational qualification to a level where they meet the entry requirement to start with the MyCiTi bus driver training.
Mr Williams said after a year, they may be in the running for a 12-year contract.
Brett Herron, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said while the associations are in transition, the City would start negotiations for the signing of long-term operating contracts for the N2 Express service.
“’Over the past three years the City has empowered the board members of the affected minibus-taxi associations to set up and run their own vehicle operating company in a joint venture with GABS,” he said.
He said it was the City’s aim to ensure that taxi associations were at the same level as other major scheduled transport operators.
Mr Herron thanked GABS for their assistance, especially for facilitating the training.
Mayor Patricia de Lille said through this process of engagement they had learned that by working together and constantly communicating, any problem could be solved. “I want to thank all those involved for working to ensure that we get to where we are today,” she said.
She said the extension of the MyCiTi service to residents in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha was a milestone which should be celebrated.
“It has been made possible through the co-operation of our residents during public participation processes, as well as through collaboration between the City and key role-players from the transport industry such as Codeta in Khayelitsha, Route 6 Taxi Association in Mitchell’s Plain and the Golden Arrow Bus Service,” she said.