Dodging traffic to trip through it

There is a disaster waiting to happen at the Noord Street Taxi Rank in the Johannesburg CBD.

The congestion has become so life-threatening that people who manage to manoeuvre the traffic can just queue up to receive their Comrades Marathon gold medals. There is no need to actually run the course.

The pavements have been taken over by street vendors. It is safer to walk on the streets because if you bump against someone's wares, you are in for it.

The area next to the old Shell House is a case in point. The politicians figured that if you can't beat them, join them. They have their own stalls selling their garish political paraphernalia.

I do not know who buys all those old-fashioned T-shirts and scarves. They have been around since Nelson Mandela took his first steps to Mahlamba'Ndlhopfu.

The new education syllabus has churned out thousands of young designers. The least the ANC can do is hire one of them to update their uniforms. This is the 21st century after all.

There are the fashion jewellers who literally push their wares right into your eye sockets. You have to dodge these aggressive entrepreneurs as well as walk fast because of the river of people going to the rank.

There is always a smelly trickle of who-knows-what right at the robots. You have to take a running jump to get to the pedestrian crossing.

That is when you become embroiled in a tussle with private cars, pedestrians, trolley pushers and taxis.

The robots are not meant to be obeyed.

I say this because the few times that Metro cops show up, people go about their business regardless of the poor cop's waving arms.

I am not sure if drivers do not know the rules of the road or whether they stubbornly stick to what they know best. I am deathly afraid of cars. That is why I do not drive.

But I have learnt to sprint, jive and dodge and jump to get to the other side of the robots.

Next to the robots is a lady who sells chicken innards. The nice ones that take care of the babalaas on Saturday morning. You have to move around her and the lady whose main business is selling compressed clay soil to the addicted.

You have to move fast because hordes are right behind you and if you are busy swaying your assets, you will end up flat on the pavement.

Girls in 6-inch heels skip nimbly past you as you try to find out if anyone is laughing at you.

The next obstacle is when your taxi tries to leave the rank. It might sometimes take all of 20 minutes. The chaos is unbelievable.

Some queue marshals try to control the traffic, but I have noticed that they give first preference to their own taxi association. It would greatly help if the Metro cops had a permanent base at those two intersections.