Cape Town - A battle is brewing between vehicle operating companies (VOCs) and the City, after Kidrogen tabled a list of demands to the City, regarding contract rates, spare parts, loan buses, maintenance and licence costs incurred.
Kidrogen, one of the companies providing the City with integrated rapid transport services known as MyCiTi, said it was regrettable that those issues, some of which were initially raised with the City in 2018, remained unresolved due to bad faith, which the City has allegedly displayed for quite some time.
Abdul Muttalib Edross, shareholder of Kidrogen, said it was unfortunate that the City consistently shifted the goalposts in matters involving Kidrogen.
Edross said in a letter dated January 29, the City undertook to return the loaned buses to Kidrogen. However, in their letter dated November 4, the City planned to unilaterally hand over the loaned buses to the N2 Express Joint Venture (JV) operating company.
He said the buses in question were handed over/loaned to the N2 Express JV at the instance of a service notice from the City dated April 29.
N2 Express JV service has been out of operation since a dispute arose among the route’s taxi industry shareholders when their contracts ended in the first half of 2019.
The company was made up of Route Six Taxi Association, Golden Arrow Bus Service (Gabs) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta).
“The buses should have been returned to Kidrogen at the end of each business day and certainly when the contract between the City and the N2 Express JV expired in 2018,” Edros said.
He said as per the City’s letter, Gabs returned Table Bay Rapid Transit (TBRT) buses and the latter have been utilising the buses they’d loaned to the N2 Express JV.
Edros said Kidrogen, on the other hand, was unduly prejudiced by the City’s decision not to facilitate the return of the five buses in Gabs’ possession.
He said they (Kidrogen) could not meet service demands placed on them from time to time and had to turn down additional trips due to a shortage of buses.
“Kidrogen’s five buses are currently in the possession of Gabs.
“We demand that the said buses be returned to Kidrogen with immediate effect.”
Gabs spokesperson, Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, said Gabs was not in possession of any buses allocated to Kidrogen.
Mogamat Saleeq Hendricks, shareholder for another VOC, Trans Peninsula Investments (TPI), said it was concerning that the City has always been giving Gabs first preference over the disadvantaged companies.
Good party secretary-general Brett Herron, said the fact that Gabs was in possession of buses allocated to Kidrogen in terms of the regulations and council approval was a breach of the regulations.
“The City manager should explain how this has happened.
“More importantly, why are Golden Arrow in possession of the City’s assets?
“Do they have a council resolution in terms of the municipal asset regulations to have them?"
Transport Mayco member, Rob Quintas, said the City was not at liberty to disclose the details and actions related to issues and concerns raised.
“These are being dealt with in accordance with the City’s contract with the said VOC,” Quintas said.
SA Bus Rapid Transit Association and Academy (Sabrata) chairperson, Andile Peter, urged the government to reconsider changing the current bus rapid transit (BRT) legislation governing the call for new bus operating company (BOC) tenders.
Peter said there were significant issues relating to BRT systems around the country, which needed to be highlighted and addressed, with the major one being the 12-year contracts.
He said the call was made on the basis that the original contracts were not tendered contracts but rather negotiated contracts with the taxi industry where several considerations were taken into account, including transformation and empowerment of the taxi industry.
“Sabrata does not agree with the idea of going out on tender.
“Our call is about addressing imbalances, both past and present, creating a viable framework for BOCs across the country and ensuring that there is a level playing field for all operators,” he said.