Communicate change to stakeholders
When advising stakeholders on impending change and its associated ramifications, it becomes critical to make use of the right channels to communicate, communicate, communicate.
27 Aug 2009 11:54
The new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system may be a welcome redress to improve the current ailing public transport system in metropolitan areas ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but poor communication from government to its relevant stakeholders could prove to be a major spanner in the works.
After the outbreaks of national strikes and marches by the disgruntled taxi industry protesting the BRT launch in November 2008, government agreed to put the system on hold. Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele spear-headed a joint working group between the taxi industry and government to iron out their differences.
With the negotiations still continuing, the announcement by Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo that the BRT system would be launching its first phase at the end of the month, therefore came as a rather unpleasant surprise to taxi drivers.
The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) claimed that it was “caught unaware” and that it had only learnt about the BRT's first phase launch through the media. Not informing a critical stakeholder about the launch of a system, while still in negotiations, is a clear failure to communicate.
This unfortunately is not the first communication failure government has had with regard to the BRT system. After a three-day workshop in July last year between the Joburg Taxi Industry and the MMC of Transport, R. Moosajee, taxi commuters interviewed at the Noord Street Taxi Rank in the CBD were quoted in the media as saying that they “didn't know anything about the BRT system.”
And despite information on the Rea Vaya website - established to provide information on the BRT system - that road shows would be conducted to ‘educate' taxi associations and commuters on how the transformation of the public transport system would affect them, United Taxi Association Forum chairman Ralph Jones stated: “We have been saying we don't understand… Make us understand. What is the BRT? Who is going to own the BRT?”
Transport Director-General Mpumi Mpofu may have recently admitted failure to Parliament regarding the flawed consultation process over the system, but what he doesn't seem to realise is that the real failure here is the lack of effective communication.