The Rustenburg Local Municipality welcomed their first Yarona Bus to kick-off the technical demonstration and testing phase of the project at a session held at the Rustenburg Civic Centre. Welcomed by the Executive Mayor of the Rustenburg Local Municipality, Councillor Mpho Khunou, accompanied by the Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMC’s) for Roads and Transport Councillor Lucky Kgaladi, former MMC for the portfolio Councillor Joyce Mashishi-Ntsime currently MMC for Corporate Support Services as well as the City’s stakeholder on the project, said the Municipality had reached an important milestone of the project. “The RRT is part of the 2010 Soccer World Cup legacy project, which aims to integrate public transport in the City, in an affordable, reliable and safe execution. Indeed, we have come a long way, and we owe today’s achievement; the arrival of the first buts to the patience and cooperation of the taxi industry” Mayor Khunou reiterated.
The Municipality has been working closely with the local and affected taxi industry who have shown tremendous support and are part of the transformative agenda of the RRT project. Some of the key milestones achieved with the local taxi industry include the establishment of the Taxi Negotiating Forum, conclusion Memorandum of Agreement, establishment of the Bus Operating Company (BOC) which affected taxi operators would transition into.
The Municipality’s leadership approved the bus and gave the technical demonstration a thumbs-up. The Taxi Negotiating Forum, which was represented by Mr. Cornelius Mogau, the forum’s Chairperson, said the industry was overjoyed, that a significant achievement has been recorded, which can only mean the operationalization of the project is near “Executive Mayor and fellow Councillors, we are happy that after the many challenges, we experienced in the process of ensuring that the project materializes, we have the City’s first bus and the projects is nearing completion.  We are excited, that despite the many challenges we experienced, the project will see the light of day and our people will benefit. It could not have been easy, as this is a first in the country, we you have government and the industry joining hands to bring about an integrated public transport system” Mr. Mogau remarked.
The Mayor announced the much anticipated RRT project would start with the testing and training phase. The bus will be used by the Rustenburg Rapid Transport team to train drivers, and test various infrastructure components including stations and priority traffic lights in a build up to the main launch in October 2020.  The Rustenburg Rapid Transport programme is the national flagship from the National Department of Transport, a road-based component of the Bus Rapid Transport Strategy that was approved by the cabinet in 2007. Its intentions are to ensure swift movement of large numbers of people between parts of a city in a quick and safer way.
At the session, the uniform for the Yarona bus personnel was also unveiled to stakeholders in a form of a distant fashion parade without neglecting the Covid-19 regulations. The uniform unveiled included uniform for drivers, ambassadors, maintenance personnel, tellers and supervisors.
The Municipality further announced that it would be working together with the local taxi industry to integrate the public transport services – particularly taxis and buses. These services would be co-branded and use a single fare system once fully rolled out.
The Municipality plans to roll-out 10 buses for Phase1A of the system before the end of the year with a further 30 buses planned in the coming 24 months. In total 40 buses and 150 taxis would form phase of the first phase of the system.