Taxis bring traffic on busy uMhlanga road to a standstill

To restore calm to the area, authorities agreed to temporarily allow taxis to park near Ocean Mall

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Minibus taxi operators blocked the roads outside Ocean Mall in uMhlanga Rocks, Durban, on Tuesday, demanding they be given a proper rank. Photos: Tsoanelo Sefoloko

Traffic outside Ocean Mall in uMhlanga Rocks, Durban was brought to a standstill on Tuesday afternoon as taxi operators blocked the roads with their vehicles and concrete boulders.

The taxi operators are demanding to be given space at the mall for a rank where they can park and collect passengers. Officials at the eThekwini Municipality are expected to meet representatives from the taxi industry this week to find a solution. There are currently no designated public transport spaces near the new mall.

South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) Greater North Region chairman, Sifiso Mthethwa, explained that their frustration with the municipality reached a boiling point on Tuesday. Taxi operators have been asking for a permanent rank in uMhlanga for a while.

To restore calm and clear the busy roads, authorities agreed to a temporary solution that will allow taxis to park near Ocean Mall.

Ward 35 Councillor Nicole Ballman (DA) said, “I have written to the mayor, City manager, the heads of eThekwini Transport Authority and Catalytic Projects to join the meeting with taxi operators. If they do not participate, I shudder to think of what will happen next.”

Ballman said she has been raising the concerns of taxi operators with the eThekwini municipality since 2019. “I have warned against a potential blood bath given the increasing pressure within the precinct.”

“UMhlanga has become a cesspit of chaos due to the lack of political will. For years, I have sent countless emails, engaged in discussions and made numerous requests, all aimed at highlighting the dire situation uMhlanga Rocks faces concerning public transport, businesses trading without permits and brandishing of firearms,” said Ballman.

Brian Mpono, CEO of uMhlanga development, said: “We have managed to come to a solution between uMhlanga development, Greater North SANTACO and metro police. I am so disappointed that no one from eThekwini Transport Authority was available to address the problems. We have had so many meetings where the municipality did not show up.”

EThekwini municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana confirmed that 40 taxis blocked the M4 Highway and Lighthouse Road which led to hours of congestion.

“Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies were on scene and attended to the illegal blockading of roads, which the City strongly condemns … The Municipality is also finalising consultations of a new holding area for taxis and buses. The site has already been identified,” said Sisilana.

Workers removing large concrete slabs which were used to block the road outside Ocean Mall in uMhlanga, Durban, on Tuesday afternoon.

TOPICS:  Transport

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