Businesses irked as taxis turn lower Langalibalele Street into private rank

2013-01-18 00:00

TAXIS taking pupils to schools in Pietermaritzburg have turned lower Langalibalele Street into an unofficial taxi rank, creating havoc for businesses and residents in the area.

The vehicles apparently arrive at around 8 am shortly after dropping off pupils and are parked there until the afternoon when school ends.

Shop owners say their businesses are affected because customers cannot find parking. They themselves struggle to get to their premises.

Residents complain that their rubbish is not being collected because the taxis are blocking the road and that Vernon Street, between Langalibalele and Jabu Ndlovu, is at times impassable.

None of the residents wanted to be named, claiming that the taxi drivers threatened them when they ask them to move.

Witness staff were also intimidated when the drivers questioned why photographs were being taken.

They asked for the name of the source of the complaint and warned the photographer against publishing the number plates of any of their vehicles.

Residents said repeated complaints had been made to the Msunduzi Traffic Department.

They alleged that traffic officers who were sent to investigate were seen to be chatting amiably with the taxi drivers before driving off.

Business owners and residents deplored the lack of traffic control in the CBD. One said the area was like the “Wild West”, with taxi ranks brazenly being set up on a public street.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said taxis had designated ranking facilities and that their drivers could not simply set up a rank anywhere.

He said the complaints would be investigated and the status of the vehicles determined.

“We will approach the Public Transport Enforcement Unit of the Department of Transport, who by law have the competency and capacity to deal with taxi licensing issues.”

Zuma said the municipality was committed to restoring law and order on the streets. He said the parking meter system soon to be introduced was a step in this direction.

The public consultation process on changes to the by-laws to accommodate the system had just been completed and was a legal compliance requirement, Zuma added.

“In a matter of weeks, we will implement the system gradually until we cover the entire CBD, and then move beyond.

“In the meantime, plans are being put in place to enhance enforcement in relation to traffic management.”

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