Eastern Cape town’s R7.6-million taxi rank left unused for years

Municipality blames taxi violence, but Ngqamakhwe’s local taxi association says the facility was never finished

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The R7.6-million taxi rank in Ngqamakhwe town near Butterworth, Eastern Cape, was completed in 2021. It is not in use. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Ngqamakhwe town near Butterworth in the Eastern Cape received a brand new taxi rank in 2021. It took more than two years to construct and it cost R7.6-million. But it is not in use.

Mnquma Local Municipality spokesperson Loyiso Mpalantshane said the rank was handed over to the taxi associations, but police and municipal law enforcement advised them not to open it due to taxi wars.

There are three taxi associations, each based in nearby towns: Ngqamakhwe, Centane and Butterworth taxi association.

Mpalantshane said most incidents are related to fights over routes, and between 2021 and 2022 about 20 people were killed in taxi-related violence.

“As the municipality we really want this taxi rank to be used. I was there last week, the grass is now starting to grow,” he said. But taxi issues are ongoing.

“You find that those transporting people from Butterworth to Ngqamakhwe are now not allowed to transport them back to Butterworth; only a taxi from Ngqamakhwe is allowed. Same with the route between Centane and Butterworth,” he said.

Ngqamakhwe taxi association chairperson Phumzile Jwathi confirmed they had received the keys to the rank from the municipality, but he said they have been waiting since 2021 for the municipality to install lights and a rail for the sliding gate, and also to fix the doors and the fencing.

“We told them that we can only use the taxi rank once all has been fixed. Since then they have been giving us a run around,” said Jwathi.

He said there is a great need for the taxi rank because of the many small villages surrounding Ngqmakhwe, but taxi associations will not accept the rank while it is unfinished.

Last week GroundUp visited the rank. It is still in good condition. Fencing not far from the entrance is however broken, and it is easy to get inside. Mpalantshane said the fence had been hit by a bakkie.

Currently most taxis use a small rank on the main road, which causes serious traffic congestion, especially on days when social grants are paid.

Ward 18 Councillor Lunga Dyantyi (ANC) said the municipality is aware of the rail for the gate and will fix it.

TOPICS:  Transport

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