Durban vendors say they pay their fees but the municipality ignores them

Lights at the Berea bus rank where they trade have been broken for five years

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Lights have been broken for five years at the Berea long distance bus rank even though the vendors pay their fees to the municipality every year. Photo: Tsoanelo Sefoloko

Lights at the Berea bus rank in eThekwini have been broken for five years, according to vendors operating at the rank. This despite them paying fees to the municipality every year. Without lights they are at the mercy of criminals in the evening and early morning, they say.

The long distance bus rank is used by commuters traveling to Shallcross, KwaNdengezi, Mobeni, Chatsworth and Matatiele in the Eastern Cape. Some told GroundUp they had been robbed.

Rank manager Matukelo Lepheana said about 35 buses used the rank, and the first, to Matatiele, started loading at 4:30am when it was still dark.

“We are struggling to keep our commuters safe because there is no light in this rank. When we are asking about the light we are told by the municipality that we must wait for the next financial year. It has been five years without lights.”

Patrick Ntombela, who has been trading for 25 years, says vendors start trading early before the big retailers open. “It is better to arrive very early in the morning, around 4am, so as to sell to those who are traveling to Eshowe and the Eastern Cape.”

He said he is forced to use a portable light.

“It is really not easy to sell in the dark,” he said.

Another trader, Nokuthula Mngwembe, said, “Criminals are always robbing people and no one has ever come to assist because it is dark at the rank. So criminals take one’s belongings and walk, they don’t even run.”

“The sad part is that we are expected to pay every year even though we are working in the dark and watching people getting robbed every day. People who are going to the Berea train station walk through the rank and it is not safe for them as well,” said Mngwembe.

Vendors pay between R700 and R900 a year for a trading licence.

Gugu Sisilana, eThekwini municipality spokesperson, said the bus rank lights were receiving the necessary attention and would be repaired very soon.

When GroundUp asked the media office why nothing had been done for five years, senior communications officer Princess Nkabane said, “We are not aware of the rank being dark for five years.”

Lepheana, however, said the problem had been reported several times.

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