District Six residents say their neighbourhood has been turned into a dirty and very noisy makeshift taxi rank, and they’re blaming the City of Cape Town.
Earlier this year, the City finished a R2 million renovation of the taxi rank on the deck above the train station, but after the work was done, there was space for only 330 taxis, which meant hundreds of taxis had to find somewhere else to park.
Since the middle of January, around 350 taxis have parked in Selkirk Street under the Nelson Mandela Boulevard bridge, according to a District Six resident who does not want to be named for fear of reprisals.
The taxis drive along Chapel Street and turn down Stukeris Street which leads to Selkirk Street under Nelson Mandela Boul-evard.
District Six resident Jasmin Ebrahim says there is no peace in the area.
“Music is playing loud, people are screaming at each other and people are dumping their dirt around the area. Whoever redirected the taxis here, would they want to live here?”
District Six Advocacy Committee chairwoman, Tania Kleinhans-Cedras, blames the City for the problems residents now face.
“We are harassed by taxi drivers. We are experiencing extreme noise levels and filth, there is defecating and urinating in public. We now have swarms of vagrants who are washing the taxis. Our refuse bins are being stolen to transport the water in bulk to earn money.”
When we visited the area, it was clear taxis had settled down at the makeshift rank in Selkirt Street.
Municipal bins were being used to cart water to wash the taxis, and vendors had moved in to sell food and drink to commuters.
Taxi driver Paul Tatsi, who ferries commuters to Khayelitsha, said the makeshift rank was better than the one they call “The Deck” because there were no traffic jams.
“The deck was too small to fit all the taxis in,” he said.
Sindiswa Yazel has been a vendor on the station deck for more than 12 years but said she found it easier to work at the makeshift rank.
Chairperson of the Upper District Six Neighbourhood Watch, Anthea Bredenkamp, said the makeshift taxi rank was a problem created by the City.
“There has been an increase in vagrants looking for work due to the makeshift taxi rank, and wheelie bins have been stolen so that people washing taxis can fill them with water.”
She accused the City of treating the community with disrespect and being more concerned about renaming Keizergracht to Hanover Street in an empty area than taking care of an area where people actually lived.
“Nobody consulted with us whether the taxis can park there,” she said.
Mayco member for transport Felicity Purchase said there was space for 330 vehicles at the station deck rank.
“It is desirable that approximately one third of the vehicles is accommodated at the station deck facility, another third in a holding area and the last third on the road,” she said.
“The City is investigating options for two remote holding areas, which will minimise the current minibus-taxi overflow problems experienced in the vicinity under the N2 freeway adjacent to Sir Lowry Road.”
The additional holding area would have space for 293 taxis, she said, adding: “The City will engage in more detail with the affected communities once the proposals are finalised.”
According to Law Enforcement’s Wayne Dyason, they have seen no reports of stolen wheelie bins in the area.
Replacement bins would be issued, at no charge, he said, as long as the owner of a stolen bin sent an affidavit confirming the theft to firstname.lastname@example.org along with their address, name and contact number.