R400m taxi rank 'a white elephant'
TAXI operators in Bloemfontein, Free State, have accused the Mangaung Metro of wasting millions of rands of taxpayers' money on a taxi rank that now stands idle.
Hundreds of taxis operate from the city's streets, while the R400-million taxi rank has been turned into a "white elephant".
The rank was declared "non-operative" after taxi owners refused to operate from there.
Taxi owners and drivers claimed the expensive structure was defective and needed serious reworking before they could use it.
The taxi operators claimed two taxis could not go in and out of the rank at the same time and that they were forced to make commuters wait in long queues, which adversely affected the flow of traffic.
They also claimed that commuters had to climb two flights of stairs to get to the taxis. They said commuters complained because the single lift was frequently out of order because of the high number of people using it.
Deputy chairman of the Greater Bloemfontein Taxi Association, Leemisa Seloana, said the new structure was a waste of money.
Construction on the taxi rank started in 2009 as part of the 2010 Fifa World Cup preparations and was expected to be operational before the soccer tournament took place.
"We were happy when they demolished our old taxi rank, which was bigger than this one. Government promised us a state-of-the-art rank. Instead, they did not even meet the completion deadline," Seloana said.
He said in December they were forced to use the new rank by law enforcement agencies, including the army.
In January taxi operators returned to the streets after realising that they were losing money and commuters were becoming frustrated.
Mangaung mayor Thabo Manyoni yesterday conceded that some parts of the rank, including the entrance and exit, needed to be fixed.
"The problem is another building in front of the rank. We are currently negotiating with the owner to demolish it.
"He wants R3-million. We want to pay him a market-related amount because what he wants is way too much," Manyoni said.
"I want the rank to be operational by October this year." - firstname.lastname@example.org