SHOPPING areas in predominantly upper class areas of Nelson Mandela Bay are being built at a frenzied pace currently, practically becoming de facto neighbours in close proximity to each other.
If one takes the 17th Avenue-Main Road, Walmer intersection at Fig Tree for example, these mega shopping centres straddle this interchange/intersection and give rise to traffic congestion of horrendous proportions.
Add to this a motley crew mix of taxi public transport not being catered for at these world class shopping centres, not even for that used by their workers, and you have a recipe for a mega congested arterial, traffic disaster and envisaged enrichment of panel-beating shops on a gargantuan scale, underpinned by very possible major human injuries and certain death. What has to be noted in and around these mega shopping centres is that no provision is made for public transport facilities on these entities’ properties.
Most, if not all, their workers rely on taxis to get to and from work. Thus the proliferation of taxi ranks on all four corners concerned, at the historic dying fig tree intersection.
Added to this, most of the shopping centres concerned’s daily middle to lower class clientele utilise these taxis to get to their stores to purchase whatever commodities they might need, as and when they need these. The stores always have advertised specials to lure the shopper to these centres.
The fact that no provision is made for taxi ranks on these shopping centre properties is a recipe for disaster as ranks now sprout up on busy traffic intersections fronting these shopping centres, intersections designed to allow free flow of private transport only. The next thing is these private vehicle owners are frustrated by delays and holdups within the ensuing traffic chaos, congestion and practically permanent traffic snarl-ups.
The owners of these shopping centres and properties need to hang their heads in shame for allowing ill-conceived, blinkered planning that will not stand the test of time. They, the managers, city and area councillors and private vehicle operators are then expected to cope with the traffic jams playing themselves out there currently.
Of course the taxis are the convenient scapegoats to blame as they have to go where the commuting public’s need arises. The bad planning and intransigence on big businesses’ part, helped in no minor way by town planning engineers within NMB Municipality, is to blame.
This is South Africa, with a very poor working class who will not be able to afford their own vehicles for a very long time to come. So why no provision on the shopping centre doorsteps for public transport loading and offloading points and spaces, for taxis especially?
This points to a racist, blinkered mindset of owners, designers and town planners who just won’t realise that South Africa is a mix of all social classes, who have to work and interact side by side for this rainbow nation to emerge and arise while living in peace with itself. Carelessly putting impediments in place of genuine progress is what is keeping this nation apart and divided.
The taxi industry in Nelson Mandela Bay demands taxi ranks on all shopping centre premises throughout this metro. If needs be, we will lobby for unconstitutional laws to be changed in parliament, to force these establishments to comply so commuters/shoppers are transported to and from shopping centres safely, unimpeded, sheltered against the elements and unhindered.
The taxi industry will not be wished away by the powers that be or ordinary affluent folk. This true self black economically empowered taxi industry is home grown and is flexing its muscles, wanting its fair share of its value chain and mainstream economic pie.
We are making our voice heard throughout the corridors of power now. We, the taxi industry, will be the true catalyst for change in all spheres of commercialism and society at large here in South Africa.
Those who see the taxi industry as unruly and uneducated, think again.
We are marching/driving to our rightful place in the mainstream economy of this land.
That in itself is long overdue. Sanity has to prevail or we all go down the tubes into darkness.
-Denzyl Harper, Korsten, Port Elizabeth