50 taxi drivers expected to start training as Metro's Libhongolethu bus drivers
The first 50 taxi drivers identified for training in driving the Libhongolethu buses, which are part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's Integrated Public Transport Service (IPTS), are expected to be inducted on Monday, at a ceremony to held at the West End Community Hall (Bethelsdorp Hall) in Gelvandale, Port Elizabeth.
The drivers come from the four Northern Areas taxi associations that have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the City to roll out a Starter Service of the IPTS, which will run on the Cleary Park to the Port Elizabeth CBD route.
The Cleary Park route, one of five in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro that have been identified by the City to be technically ready for the roll-out of a starter service to the IPTS - once all the requirements are met and the taxi associations adhere to all compliance issues.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Mayoral Committee Member for Road and Transport, Cllr Rano Kayser, is expected to receive the group and afterwards officiate at the handover for the commencement of cosmetic construction touches to the infrastructure on the Cleary Park route.
Engagements with taxi industry
This development comes after consultations and engagements held between Cllr Kayser and the concerned taxi associations in recent weeks.
In those engagements, local taxi drivers, marshalls and conductors on the Cleary Park to the CBD route raised concern that the implementation of the Metro's much-awaited IPTS might see many in the taxi industry losing their jobs.
Speaking at a meeting held about two weeks ago with the taxi associations, Cllr Kayser emphasised on the urgency of rolling out the IPTS service.
He reminded the taxi owners that, “Nelson Mandela Bay was identified along with twelve other municipalities to provide this kind of service to their communities as far back as 2004. The City remains the only municipality not to have rendered this service even though the infrastructure has been constructed and the buses were purchased and have been docked at the depot since 2013.”
The signing of the MOA paves the way for the taxi associations to form a Vehicle Operating Company (VOC) that will render a public transport service, on an agency basis, to the City.
Surveys have been conducted by the City and taxi operators to assist in understanding taxi and bus commuter patterns down to the times of the day, week, month and season.
For our other coverage of the taxi industry, read: VIDEO: TAXI DRIVER RECKLESSNESS: BAD BEHAVIOUR OR JUST POOR TRAFFIC CONTROL
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