KNYSNA NEWS - Knysna Municipality has agreed to lease the unused Hornlee Taxi Rank to the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works for the establishment of a new clinic in Hornlee.
The R9,2-million taxi rank, which is now a white elephant, will be transformed into a medical facility that will replace the Hornlee Clinic.
Department of Health spokesperson Nadia Ferreira confirmed that Knysna Municipality has approved leasing the premises, but said the project is still in the very early phases. "Securing premises was a critical first step for us in the development of a new clinic in Hornlee," Ferreira said.
Municipal spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhout in a statement last week said the municipality is within its rights to negotiate directly with the department, as it is an organ of state. "The department will be responsible for the costs involved, as well as any and all other incidental costs," he said. "The Garden Route Taxi Association lodged the only comment or complaint received during the public participation process, but it must be noted that this rank has not been used since it was completed."
Uncedo Taxi Association Knysna branch chair Thobelani Swartbooi said they were never consulted when the rank was built and as a result it is difficult for them to use it because "it is in a hole".
"A taxi carrying passengers would struggle getting out of the rank. Now they want to make it a clinic without even speaking with us," Swartbooi said.
He also said they were not approached about turning the premises into a clinic. "We did not know about this and if we knew we would have raised our complaints," he said, adding that the municipality is undermining the association. "There is no relationship between the municipality and the taxi associations in Knysna." However, Bezuidenhout said they consulted with all the stakeholders about the lease.
Department of Transport and Public Works spokesperson Jandré Bakker confirmed they are negotiating with the municipality about the lease. "Implementation of the project will be subject to the outcome of the negotiations so timelines cannot be communicated at this stage," said Bekker.
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