MEC in­spects foul city taxi ranks

‘Nyaope’ boys, un­us­able toi­let fa­cil­i­ties and rob­bery of com­muters or­der of the day

Pretoria News - - METRO - SAKHILE NDLAZI [email protected]

FROM “nyaope” boys ter­ror­is­ing users of the taxi ranks to stink­ing toi­lets and com­muters mug­ging taxi driv­ers.

These were some of the harsh re­al­i­ties that greeted MEC for In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment Ja­cob Mam­abolo when he vis­ited taxi ranks in the city yes­ter­day.

He went to Marabas­tad and Bloed Street taxi ranks in con­tin­u­a­tion of a pro­gramme to as­sess the state of var­i­ous rank fa­cil­i­ties for pos­si­ble in­ter­ven­tions to im­prove con­di­tions and to ex­plore eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Dur­ing the State of the Province Ad­dress a few weeks ago, Pre­mier David Makhura iden­ti­fied taxi ranks which needed ur­gent in­ter­ven­tion from the pro­vin­cial govern­ment.

Com­muters told the MEC that “blue­tooth boys” or “nyaope ad­dicts” made us­ing pub­lic trans­port a liv­ing hell.

The hell, ac­cord­ing to them, started from 4.30am to 6am, and then again from 6pm un­til late.

One per­son who uses the rank daily said that in some in­stances com­muters were robbed in broad day­light.

“Marabas­tad is a war zone. They rob you in broad day­light in front of peo­ple and the peo­ple don’t even help you, they just pass. There is no se­cu­rity here.”

Sev­eral com­muters raised these con­cerns with the taxi driv­ers in July and the driv­ers re­sponded by force­fully re­mov­ing the drug ad­dicts from Bloed Street taxi rank. Taxi driver Jabu Baloyi was shot and killed.

“The taxi driv­ers used sjam­boks to try to chase them away, but not long af­ter that they came back,” said an­other com­muter.

Mam­abolo also vis­ited the place at Bloed Street taxi rank where Baloyi was shot dead, al­legedly by a man deal­ing in drugs.

The Pre­to­ria CBD was brought to a stand­still af­ter the killing and pro­test­ers set fire to a for­eign-owned build­ing.

Yes­ter­day com­muters claimed that the drug ad­dicts were also in­volved in armed rob­beries, smash-and-grabs and car break-ins.

“Some­times they will even cut your bag un­der­neath from be­hind with a ra­zor with­out you know­ing.”

But what raised the hairs on Mam­abolo’s neck was com­muters rob­bing taxi driv­ers from Zim­babwe and Mozam­bique. The rob­bers, who are said to be mostly from South Africa, posed as pas­sen­gers, the MEC was told.

The story was that about half­way through a trip the pas­sen­gers, who mostly work from 6am, whip out guns and stop the taxi, rob the driv­ers and com­muters of their money and be­long­ings and are then picked up by a get­away car.

For­eign driv­ers told Mam­abolo that po­lice were also re­luc­tant to help them each time they re­ported the in­ci­dents.

“We get a sense that be­cause we are for­eign na­tion­als we don’t get first pri­or­ity,” one said.

Mam­abolo asked for all the case num­bers that driv­ers had opened and promised to fol­low it up.

How­ever, he was con­cerned about the lack of sleep for those driv­ers trav­el­ling be­tween Marabas­tad and their re­spec­tive places in Zim­babwe and Mozam­bique.

The driv­ers told Mam­abolo they slept in their taxis at Marabas­tad be­cause they couldn’t pay for ac­com­mo­da­tion in Pre­to­ria.

They said each trip takes 12 hours and the only time they got some sleep was when they were in their home coun­tries – and even that was not enough sleep. “Fa­tigue and driver be­hav­iour are the two most im­por­tant fac­tors that cause ac­ci­dents, es­pe­cially ap­proach­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

“We are go­ing to have to look into how we can as­sist these driv­ers,” Mam­abolo said.

Com­muters also told the MEC they couldn’t even go to the toi­lets be­cause of the bad state those fa­cil­i­ties were in.

Bro­ken win­dows, empty door­ways, leak­ing pipes and dam­aged toi­lets were the con­di­tion they were in.

The toi­lets have been van­dalised, with seats bro­ken and wash­basins not in work­ing con­di­tion, while wa­ter pipes have been stripped off.

Even though the toi­lets are cleaned, the leak­ing pipes and van­dal­ism is ev­i­dent in the fa­cil­i­ties.

Mam­abolo was re­luc­tant to give short-term and im­me­di­ate so­lu­tions, say­ing the prob­lem re­quired a full in-depth solution be­cause of their com­plex­ity. “I can’t stand here and say I will do this and that and not de­liver.

“I first need a plan of ac­tion be­fore com­mit­ting.

“We need the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to take con­trol of these ranks again. Only then can we come up with vi­able so­lu­tions.”

African News Agency (ANA) THOBILE MATHONSI

MEC for Pub­lic Trans­port and Roads In­fra­struc­ture Ja­cob Mam­abolo vis­ited Marabas­tad yes­ter­day as part of his in­spec­tion of taxi rank fa­cil­i­ties in the province. |

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