Opponents express fears for safety of pupils, the disabled and residents
The looming construction of a formal taxi rank near the entrance to NMMU’s north campus has heightened fears for the safety of scores of physically disabled people, school pupils and residents who traverse the area on foot and in motorised wheelchairs.
The university, which last month published an invitation to tender for the development of the taxi rank, plans to push ahead with the construction of the rank despite years of unsuccessful objections from Summerstrand residents, Cheshire Home Summerstrand and special education needs institution Cape Recife High School.
The concerns for the safety of pedestrians, and up to 50 motorised wheelchair occupants, and residents – including a family who were threatened by a knife-wielding taxi driver who had parked in their driveway – came to light after sister publication The Herald published a report on the new rank earlier this month.
Concerns have also been raised over pupils being offered “dagga and other substances”, the abuse of teaching staff at the school, damage to property and unhygienic behaviour, among other problems at the current informal rank site.
The new facility has been welcomed by members of the two taxi associations, Bata and Norwich, which operate between the university and the Strand Street taxi rank.
While NMMU plans to locate its new transport hub on its own property – which, according to the institution, will be on a vacant section of the Innoventon property on the corner of University Way and Gomery Avenue – the taxi business has long enjoyed informal usage of an area in front of the land earmarked for the rank. This informal area is situated at the edge of a frequently congested traffic circle which can only be accessed by mounting a sizeable curb.
To avoid damaging their vehicles and as witnessed by Weekend Post and evidenced by photographs in Cheshire Home’s possession, taxi drivers regularly drive the full length of the pavement leading from the intersection towards Cheshire Home and towards the nearest “off ramp” from the pavement in Gomery Avenue.
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