Go! Dur­ban is go­ing nowhere

Sunday Tribune - - METRO -

THIS year was sup­posed to be a mile­stone for the city’s multi­bil­lion-rand trans­port project, Go! Dur­ban, but it suf­fered ma­jor snags as the ethekwini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Trans­port Au­thor­ity (ETA) and taxi as­so­ci­a­tions feud con­tin­ues.

The city had hoped that by the end of this year the first phase of the project, known as the C3 route, stretch­ing from Pine­town to Kwa­mashu’s Bridge City, would go live.

How­ever, con­trac­tors downed tools in May.

Un­til now, no progress has been made and it is not clear when the con­struc­tion will re­sume.

Mem­bers of the Pine­town Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion (PTA) al­legedly threat­ened the con­trac­tors and asked them to leave the site be­cause the city had failed to hon­our its prom­ise.

They claimed that the ETA had promised to com­pen­sate them, say­ing their busi­nesses were af­fected by the con­struc­tion.

The also de­manded to be given a stake in the con­struc­tion.

In­stead, the city de­cided to take some taxi own­ers on a trip to South Amer­ica to show them how in­te­grated rapid trans­port works and how it would ben­e­fit the in­dus­try.

The trip, which was said to have cost more than R2 mil­lion, took place late last month.

It in­volved taxi and bus own­ers from var­i­ous re­gions and a del­e­ga­tion from the ETA .

How­ever, some taxi own­ers said the trip was not a so­lu­tion to the Go! Dur­ban project is­sues they faced.

Bheki Mbambo, chair­per­son of the PTA, main­tained that it would not al­low the con­struc­tion to re­sume un­til all their is­sues were re­solved.

“Only three of our mem­bers were part of the trip and were not told about the pur­pose of it,” Mbambo said.

“We will be hav­ing a meet­ing next week to see if the trip ad­dressed our chal­lenges.

“We have said be­fore that go­ing on a trip while we have dif­fer­ences doesn’t help us or the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. This was more like a hol­i­day and this money should have been spent to­wards find­ing so­lu­tions.

“We are now seen as en­e­mies or ob­struc­tors who don’t want de­vel­op­ment, but this is the only job we have. We have fam­i­lies to sup­port and we will do all in our power to pro­tect our jobs.”

A mem­ber of the bus own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion who was part of the trip said they spent seven days in Brazil. They were stopped in Sao Paulo be­cause they did not have visas to fly to Colom­bia.

“Al­though we had some dif­fi­cul­ties dur­ing the trip we learnt a lot about this new sys­tem,” he said.

“It is a bril­liant sys­tem but we told the of­fi­cials that the on­go­ing is­sues with own­ers from the taxi in­dus­try need to be re­solved ur­gently to en­sure the project runs smoothly.”

Head of ETA Thami Many­athi, when ap­proached for com­ment, would not pro­vide fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about the trip or say when con­struc­tion would re­sume.

“The ETA is pre­par­ing a re­port for the coun­cil that will out­line the learn­ings from the South Amer­i­can Bus Rapid Tran­sit study tour that was re­cently at­tended by city of­fi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the minibus taxi and bus in­dus­tries.

“The re­port will in­clude feed­back from both in­dus­tries about their learn­ings. A me­dia re­lease con­tain­ing the facts of the re­port will be is­sued once the re­port has been tabled at a coun­cil meet­ing,” he said.

African News Agency (ANA) | NQOBILE MBONAMBI

CON­STRUC­TION on the much-vaunted Go! Dur­ban project ground to a halt af­ter con­trac­tors downed tools in May.

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