Mechanics a menace

2015-03-10 00:00

BUSINESSES on Hoosen Haffajee (Berg) Street are calling for the formation of a task team to tackle the “illegal” street mechanics doing business there.

These mechanics and panelbeaters allegedly hog the road and public parking, keeping parking bays occupied for hours as they work on customers’ vehicles.

When The Witness drove along the street yesterday, several mechanics were seen working on cars, while others were sitting on the pavement with their tool boxes. They conveniently position themselves in front of motor spares shops.

Further down the street, there are panelbeaters also working on cars in the road. Some of the cars parked are left supported on wobbly rocks.

Others had no windows or doors and looked as though they had not been driven in months.

“They are here very early in the morning. This has been going on for years,” said one of the business owners, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation. He said he had complained about the mechanics in the past and was subsequently threatened.

“We have reported this to the municipality, but nothing has come of it. A task team needs to be set up to deal with this problem.

“This is creating a lot of traffic problems. Sometimes our customers cannot find space to park. Most of our customers are female and they are now scared of coming here because of safety concerns.”

Recently, his security guard confronted a mechanic who was fixing a car in front of the main entrance of his business.

“He just started tinting the car right in front of my door. The customer had bought the tint from the spare shop.

“When our security guard tried to address the man, he just said this was the new South Africa and there was nothing that we could do to him,” he said.

“If you go down the street, the situation is worse, there are panelbeaters and spray painters. They take the cars out during the day and fix them in the street and in the afternoon they push them back inside again,” he continued.

Another business man said. “There are large trucks that come here and some are interlinked. It becomes very difficult for them to turn into our business when the are cars parked.

Another said. “They take over all the parking, we work here and we cannot find parking.”

Msunduzi Municipality head of traffic Kwenza Khumalo said they were aware of the complaints. “This is not just a law enforcement issue, but a socio-economic issue.” He said such sidewalk businesses were a trend all over the world, especially in developing cities.

“These are businesses by skilled people and we cannot wish them away … this needs to be developed under the city informal trade strategy.”

He said a long-term strategy will be to move all the mechanics into one area where their business and skills will be harnessed.

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