12 June 2018

South Africa: City Weighing Up Transport Options in Dunoon

A public transport survey at Dunoon taxi rank will determine whether there is a high demand for minibus taxis in the area, which is largely serviced by MyCiTi buses.

Following the rollout of the MyCiTi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system along the West Coast, taxi operators were compensated for the loss of income and paid for surrendering their operating licences and handing over their vehicles for scrapping.

According to the City of Cape Town, R79.1 million was paid to compensate minibus-taxi operators for surrendering their operating licences, and R5.2 million was paid for the vehicles that were surrendered. Mayco member for Transport and Urban development, Brett Herron, said the Dunoon Taxi Association had surrendered 93 minibuses and 16 vehicles had been exempted.

Some taxi operators retired to the Eastern Cape, while some bought shares in Kidrogen, a MyCiTi bus Vehicle Operating Company, which is made up of five taxi associations.

Altogether, said Herron, 310 minibus taxi vehicles had been surrendered by Kidrogen and 52 vehicles exempted.

But trouble started brewing after taxis were surrendered. The absence of minibus taxi services in Dunoon township where there is no feeder bus service led to the emergence of new taxi operators who bought taxis and started operating illegally, creating conflict with the remaining DTA taxi operators.

Some former members who had retired after receiving compensation returned from the Eastern Cape and rejoined the DTA.

In order to avoid conflict, the illegal new minibus taxi operators were incorporated into the DTA, said Howard Ngcongco, the chairman of the taxi association.

Then, Ngcongco and the association's secretary, Desmond Nobuntu, told GroundUp, the association had started asking the City to be issued operating licences again.

"They took all our operating permits including the routes not being serviced by MyCiTi, and people saw the opportunity to make money and bought taxis. We were forced to accommodate them into the DTA to avoid conflict," said Ngcongco.

He said now the DTA had 83 members, and there were 180 mini-bus taxis operating under the DTA.

Ngcongco said the association had met Herron and JP Smith, Mayco Member for Safety and Security.

The meetings were fruitful and on Tuesday, 5 June, the City conducted a public transport survey at the Dunoon taxi rank to assess demand for and supply of transport services.

Herron confirmed this to GroundUp.

"The City has been engaging with the leadership of DTA for some time now in an effort to find the best solution to the challenges that the DTA is facing, and an outcome that will meet the needs of the residents of Dunoon," said Herron.

"It was a big mistake to confiscate our operating permits," said Ngcongco. "Dunoon population has grown. It is overcrowded. People need taxi services. The demand for taxis is high. People need all modes of public transport services."

Herron said the outcome of the survey would be pivotal. "The introduction of minibus-taxis -- inclusive of how and on what routes -- will only happen should the survey find that the MyCiTi service is not able to fully supply the demand and needs of commuters."

Should the supply not meet the passenger demand, the City would implement the most appropriate public transport solution in line with its Integrated Public Transport Network.

"This can either be achieved by expanding/altering the existing MyCiTi service routes or by issuing operating licences for the areas that are not served by the expanded/altered MyCiTi service," he said.

In the meantime, the City will start upgrading the current Dunoon taxi rank at a cost of over R40 million.

The DTA has requested the City to provide a temporary shelter for commuters while construction of the transport interchange is underway. The association also wants a mini-bus taxi shelter at Wolwerivier which is serviced by the DTA. There are no MyCiTi bus services there.

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