KNYSNA NEWS - Knysna Municipality could not have anticipated the shadow cast on what should have been a joyous occasion when they officially handed over the newly renovated Knysna Taxi Rank last week.
On Thursday 24 October, during the handover ceremony of the R2.4-million, two-storey building that is to house the offices of taxi associations Uncedo, Garden Route and Knysna; a boardroom; ablution facilities; and a storeroom, deputy mayor Aubrey Tsengwa said it is through various engagements with the associations that the project came to be.
But in a surprising twist to the anticipated proceedings, when municipal cleaner Lungiswa – known to most as just Mampondo, one of the people who will be looking after the facilities – was afforded an opportunity to saya few words, she said they work in "very sh***y conditions" and "not to sound like a negative Nancy, but vagrants are still going to use the facilities to smoke tik". Referring to a card system whereby commuters are only allowed into the ablution facilities one at a time, she said, "I was given 10 entrance cards by the municipality but I can tell you now, a person will take a card and have his/her four friends join with just one card."
She also asked for cooperation by taxi owners and drivers as well as food-stand owners, and added, "There are times we have altercations with the public here at the taxi rank but the taxi drivers are just spectators, we ask for your protection."
Then Knysna Taxi Association chair Zolile Jantjies, who spoke on behalf of all three organisations, said he said he believes the reason they now have these new facilities is because it formed part of the demands in a petition they handed over to the municipality last year.
This was a petition given to the municipality during a peaceful, mass protest march by the local taxi industry in June 2018.
"We work in a pigsty," Jantjies said, "Knysna Municipality sees no value in our business. They need to remember they are the reason we turn violent. We've raised our issues with the municipality and each time we follow up on these we meet different faces, the people we started with are no longer there."
He went on to plead with the deputy mayor to intervene and attend to their outstanding grievances, but warned, "They need to be attended to even if it means we have to bring the town to a standstill. We are slowly approaching a time for us to stand up and fight. If it's the pigmentation of our skin that had led us to not getting the attention we deserve, then we will show you we are businessmen and just how much contribution we bring," added Jantjies.
Tsengwa's response to these grievances was an undertaking to follow the various issues up with relevant officials, and to see to it that they are attended to.
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