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Taxis refuse to move

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Taxi operators belonging to the Kimberley Local Taxi Association (KLTA) are refusing to leave the Bultfontein Road taxi rank until illegal operators are prevented from loading passengers.

Taxis have returned to the Bultfontein Road taxi rank. Picture: Supplied

KIMBERLEY Local Taxi Association (KLTA) taxi operators are refusing to leave the Bultfontein Road taxi rank until illegal operators are prevented from loading passengers.

The Bultfontein Road taxi rank was closed in October last year after large cracks were observed in the road.

KLTA chairperson David Lebona indicated that they had returned to the Bultfontein taxi rank last week.

“None of the promises made by Sol Plaatje Municipality when we agreed to move to the Indian Centre last year have materialised,” said Lebona.

“There are no marshals and traffic officials are not preventing pirate operators from loading our passengers.”

He said that while it was worrying that Bultfontein Road could collapse, they had no other option but to draw attention to their plight.

“We do not have the authority to stop pirate taxis from operating, it is supposed to be the job of traffic officers. We are losing income and are only filling two loads instead of three per day because our passengers are being stolen.”

Lebona added that there were no ablution facilities at the Indian Centre or at the Bultfontein taxi rank.

Taxi operators who had blocked the entrances to the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison offices in Lennox Street last week, said they had given the department until today to award their permits.

“If they do not provide us with answers, we will obstruct the traffic flow until they give us what we are after.”

They added that they would remain at the Indian Centre taxi rank. “It is against the regulations to use the Bultfontein road area.”

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Steyn, questioned who would be held responsible in the event of injury or death if the Big Hole caved in.

“Operators have to wash their vehicles and make use of the bathroom while there are no ablution facilities at either of the ranks. Commuters cannot be expected to relieve themselves in the street.”

Steyn added that businesses had lost their livelihoods due to the closure of Bultfontein Road.

“Family businesses had to close their doors after investing everything without any compensation. Is the road really a danger and why is everyone silent about the taxis that have returned to Bultfontein Road?”

Taxis have returned to the Bultfontein Road taxi rank. Picture: Supplied

De Beers spokesperson Innocent Mabusela encouraged the taxis to return to the Indian Centre because of safety concerns.

“Investigations are still under way to assess the possibility of the ground movement extending into Bultfontein Road. De Beers will continue engaging with the municipality and the taxi association on the importance of keeping the road closed and the taxis utilising the Indian Centre as their holding area,” said Mabusela.

He added that the relocation in November last year only involved the taxis and no businesses were requested to move from the area.

“The risk remains as the side walls of the Big Hole will continue to break back over time. We are concerned about the safety of the taxis that have now returned to Bultfontein Road. We hope the taxi association will reconsider moving their taxis back to the Indian Centre taxi rank in the interests of their safety and that of Kimberley residents.”

Mabusela indicated that ground movement was detected on the eastern part of the Big Hole pit next to Bultfontein Road in October 2023.

“The municipality and the taxi association were advised of the potential risks posed to residents, visitors, businesses and properties in Kimberley. It was agreed that there was a need for urgent action to be taken to mitigate the risks, including relocating the taxis to the Indian Centre taxi rank.”

Mabusela stated that De Beers held a public awareness campaign to inform the people of Kimberley about the potential risks associated with the Big Hole in November last year through newspapers, radio live reads and flyers.

“Members of the community, visitors and business were requested not to use the closed road, considering the public safety concerns.”

Sol Plaatje Municipality had not responded to media enquiries at the time of publication.

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