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City honours public sector drivers

More than 100 public-sector drivers and members of several transport and taxi associations in Johannesburg were on Saturday October 8 recognised for their excellent driving skills and adherence to high safety standards on the roads.

The event formed part of the City of Johannesburg’s Transport Month programme and was held at the Apartheid Museum. It was attended by, among others, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transport Cllr Nonhlanhla Makhuba, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Executive Mayor Michael Beaumont and Acting Chairperson of the Section 79 Transport Committee Cllr Mia Snyman.

South Africa has since October 2005 observed October as Transport Month to raise awareness of the important role transport plays in the economy. This year’s Transport Month theme is: “Safe Streets and Transport for All.”

The associations represented at the event were Piotrans for Rea Vaya, Ditsamaiso, Top Six, Johannesburg-Gauteng National Taxi Alliance and the South African National Taxi Council.

Speaking during the ceremony, Cllr Makhuba said the role of public-sector and minibus taxi drivers was not only to drive safely and properly but also to do so with a smile, courtesy, respect for passengers, honesty and reliability to prevent road accidents.

She said the City was honouring public-sector and minibus taxi drivers as they “make public transport system happen” and “drive thousands of commuters daily”.

Cllr Makhuba said Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba had said the City would focus strongly on encouraging the use of public transport. She said the Mayor believed that the use of public transport would help to reduce infrastructure costs, save fuel, ease urban congestion and minimise pollution.

“In the City of Johannesburg we equally value all forms of public transport … The challenge we all have is to be attractive to our commuters,” she said.

She said the responsibility to make public transport reliable, affordable and safe was shared between the government, operators and drivers. “We as the City of Johannesburg are committed to putting in place an integrated quality transport service in which Rea Vaya BRT buses, ordinary buses and minibus taxis all have a role to play.

“In fact, the reason new Metro buses look similar to Rea Vaya buses is because we are extending the Rea Vaya brand to all forms of quality public transport. So in future, we would like to see minibus taxis also branded in Rea Vaya colours,” Cllr Makhuba said.

She said this year’s Transport Month activities would include the cleaning and upgrading of streets in Zandspruit in partnership with the community, visiting malls to engage residents on the dangers of vandalism and cable theft, a street sports day in Westbury, community consultation on road safety in Jabulani, Soweto, and a social cycle ride in Diepsloot.

Skina Ramawela, an independent trainer and facilitator, said fatigue and disregard of the rules of the road were the major causes of accidents and deaths on the roads. He called for driving lessons to be reintroduced in high schools to enable learners to know the rules of the road before they matriculate.