No toilets, no water, no shelter at teeming taxi rank

We have to beg for our basic needs as human beings, says trader

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Photo of taxi rank
Traders say the toilets at the taxi rank on the outskirts of East London have not been fixed after more than 20 years. Photo: Siphokazi Vuso

A taxi rank that caters for 28 villages on the outskirts of East London has been without water or public toilets for more than 20 years.

The rank in Park Gate Road used to be a parking lot with toilets, taps and even showers according to Nobuntu Mafanya, who sells apples, sweets, bananas, and chips at the taxi rank.

Mafanya, who has worked at the rank for 28 years, said the toilets had been vandalised in the 1980s and had never been repaired.

When GroundUp visited the taxi rank, which was teeming with passengers, the smell of urine was unbearable.

Use of the nearest toilet, across the road, costs R2. Men use the wall to relieve themselves and women go to a nearby corner, where they are visible to anyone at the taxi rank.

According to the taxi drivers, people have to buy bottled water when they are thirsty. Those who do not have money bring their own bottles of water from home.

Noameni Ntsilane, who sells fast food to passengers and drivers, said she had to spend R50 to hire a car to fetch a few buckets of water for her cooking from a township nearby.

“We struggle like this. Sometimes we’ll go a whole day without doing the cooking because there’s no water. That’s not only a problem for my customers, but for the business as well,” she said.

Traders at the taxi rank have to manage without running water or toilets. Photo: Siphokazi Vuso

Passengers said when it rained their groceries got wet because there was no shelter where they could wait for their taxi.

Taxi rank committee member Sosinki Sibetyu said the committee had raised these issues with the municipality but had only been given empty promises. He said the committee had asked at least for temporary toilets and water.

“Our passengers are always complaining to us and we have nothing to say to them, because we are as disgusted as they are,” Sibetyu said.

Nonyameko Kolisi, a passenger waiting for a taxi to fill up, said she would wait to use the bathroom when she arrived in her village, an hour away. She said this was the only taxi rank where she could get a taxi to her village.

“There’s still [only] two of us [passengers] now. We have to wait for 13 more people before this taxi leaves. I don’t know how long I will have to wait, but I don’t have a choice,” she said.

“It is funny that we have to beg for our basic needs as human beings. I live to see the day that all that we have been promised is implemented,” Mafanya said.

Buffalo City spokesperson Sibusiso Cindi said the municipality had “recently discovered” the lack of services at the rank. The municipality was “in the process of installing temporary ablutions” while seeking ways to provide permanent ablutions, he said.

He did not comment on the lack of water or shelter in the taxi rank.

TOPICS:  Government Sanitation Transport

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