MEC inspects foul city taxi ranks
‘Nyaope’ boys, unusable toilet facilities and robbery of commuters order of the day
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.”
MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo visited Marabastad yesterday as part of his inspection of taxi rank facilities in the province. |