Home News Taxis associations and Sol Plaatje Municipality strike a deal

Taxis associations and Sol Plaatje Municipality strike a deal

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The Sol Plaatje Municipality said on Thursday that an amicable resolution was reached with regard to the delayed relocation of the taxis that used to occupy the now-closed Bultfontein Taxi Rank in Kimberley.

The newly renovated Indian Centre taxi rank that will become the new temporary home for the Bultfontein Taxi Rank taxis. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE SOL Plaatje Municipality said yesterday that an amicable resolution was reached with regard to the delayed relocation of the taxis that used to occupy the now-closed Bultfontein Taxi Rank in Kimberley.

This follows more than two weeks of fraught negotiations between the taxi associations and the municipality regarding the relocation to the Indian Centre.

The taxi associations had at first indicated that they could not move to the temporary location allocated by the municipality as the facilities at the Indian Centre were not conducive for them to operate.

ALSO READ: Bultfontein taxi rank closed

Sol Plaatje workers then had to jump to carry out much-needed renovation work at the Indian Centre.

The bulk of the work included replacing the toilets in the ablution facilities, cleaning the premises and installing electricity at the rank.

The Kimberley Local Taxi Association (KLTA) previously indicated that they would not move to the centre if the required maintenance work was not completed.

Taxis have for weeks made use of South Circular Road as a parking bay, much to the dismay of local businesses in that street.

ALSO READ: Taxi chaos will be resolved by Monday – Sol

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Thabo Mothibi said that while there will still be ongoing negotiations with the taxi associations, the transition from South Circular Road to the Indian Centre will start this morning.

“We have agreed that the relocation will commence from Friday, November 10, to the Indian Centre as a holding area. We also agreed on a number of aspects, such as that there will be marshals assisting in this regard,” said Mothibi.

De Beers and the municipality will for the first six months take care of the marshals. The movement of vehicles needs to be concluded in a smooth and orderly manner and the marshals have been provided with two-way radios and uniforms so as to be identified.

“The one section of the ablution block is still a work in progress, however, the other block has been fully fitted with a ceiling and electricity.

“One appeal from the associations was that there should be no illegal taxis at the rank. Our mandate as municipality and traffic is that we do not want any illegal taxis and have requested the associations to work in partnership with law enforcement agencies should there be any reported illegal taxis occupying the rank.

“We will have an emergency team, a relocation committee and a long-term team. The long-term planning team will have continuous communication with the municipality, where the matter of a permanent transport hub will be discussed as the Indian Centre is a temporary taxi rank.

“We are happy that there was an amicable resolution of the matter without any conflict. We also want to thank local businesses in South Circular Road for their patience during this entire process,” concluded Mothibi

Earlier this week, what should have been a smooth relocation had turned into a “tit-for-tat” game between Sol Plaatje Municipality and the Bultfontein taxi associations after the taxis failed to move to the Indian Centre as anticipated.

This followed after the municipality said that the taxis that were previously using the now-closed Bultfontein Taxi Rank would be relocated to the Indian Centre.

The taxis have for the past two weeks blockaded South Circular Road after they decided to snub the Indian Centre and instead use the street as a parking bay.

This was much to the consternation of local businesses, which were unable to move in and out of their premises. Motorists and customers were not able to access the road with their vehicles either.

Sol Plaatje Municipality and the De Beers mining company had taken the decision to relocate the taxis to the Indian Centre as an apparent safety measure after cracks exceeding the Big Hole fence were detected near the taxi rank in Bultfontein Road.

Despite the municipality being hard at work last week to renovate the Indian Centre ahead of the taxis moving to the premises, the KLTA said earlier this week that the local authority had not met all of the association’s requests.

The chairperson of KLTA, Dawid Lebona, said the relocation was to be temporary and the municipality had not given an indication as to which land would be allocated to the associations for a permanent taxi rank.

“The municipality started working on the Indian Centre taxi rank after we agreed to move. We have told them in the presence of De Beers that we could not move to the premises, which was badly dilapidated and not maintained for many years,” said Lebona.

“We have requested that the ablution facilities be fixed, that there should be electricity installed and that upgrade work be done … The municipality has started to do renovation work at the premises by painting the ablution facilities and installing new toilet seats as well as restoring the water.

“What is of great concern to our members is that we agreed with the municipality that this relocation will only be until they have identified a permanent ground for us. We have since not gotten any response from the municipality on how long this temporary arrangement will be or where they will then relocate us permanently.

“These agreements were only made verbally. There is nothing in writing that was signed by all concerned parties regarding the requests and agreements made.”

Lebona added that there are still some agreed-upon measures that the municipality has yet to meet.

“We have asked them for two vehicles for our marshals. There is quite a distance between the Indian Centre and the waiting zone. We need to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that our passengers as well as the vehicles are safe. We need four additional marshals and the municipality has agreed to pay those marshals.

“Once there is clarity on these matters and there is a written agreement signed, then we can move. We first need to smooth these matters out before the move can take place.”

Lebona conceded that their taxis were causing great unhappiness among businesses in South Circular Road, but added that they were left with no alternative.

“It was never our plan to use South Circular Road. We were shocked when the Bultfontein Taxi Rank was closed and those slaps were placed at the entry points. We obviously could not move to the Indian Centre as the renovations had not started at that stage. This entire process can be resolved if the municipality comes to the party,” Lebona said.

Sol Plaatje municipal workers busy installing a ceiling inside the bathrooms at the Indian Centre taxi rank. Picture: Soraya Crowie

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