Taxi drivers have turned a children’s play park in Bellville into an illegal taxi rank, and nearby residents want City law enforcement to take action.
The Bellville taxi rank is one of the busiest transport hubs in Cape Town and certain changes during lockdown have caused some taxi’s to illegally branch out into Belrail Road, less than 2km from the rank.
Belrail Neighbourhood Watch chairwoman Gerda Gerber said that taxis had parked previously at the Paint City parking lot, which is now home to a refugee tent put up by the City of Cape Town.
“Now with them back on the road, there is no place for them, so they come to the Belrail play park,” Ms Gerber said. “They park their taxis here, wash them, do repairs and the drivers, as well as some of the passengers, treat the trees as their personal toilets. There are also not enough bins in the park to handle the number of people associated with a taxi rank, so now the dirt is just dumped all over the place.
“What we are very concerned about is that this area is meant to be a play park for children, and if the level of lockdown decreases to the point that children can play outside again, then we have to worry about them playing in between the taxis. The park is just in a disastrous state, which is very heartbreaking considering all of the efforts we make to keep the area clean and safe for children to play in.”
The neighbourhood watch leader said she also feared the rank could attract taxi-related violence and shootings.
“You see the army and the police stopping taxis all the time as they enter the Bellville CBD, and they ask everybody to produce permits and they ask them where are they going. However, people with no permits just come here to the park and they can get into a taxi and go to wherever they need to be. The army and the police see them parking here, but they do nothing. I personally went up to a member of the army and asked why they do not do anything about it, and they said that they are there to assist the police so they will have to be told by the police to go there. Then when I asked a police officer, they just told me that they were assigned to the rank.
“When the law enforcement guys block taxis on the corners of Robert Sobukwe and Belrail then the taxi’s just stop on the Bellville South bridge and the people get off or get on there and again nothing gets done about that.”
Sub-council 6 chairwoman Mercia Kleinsmith said the issue was being investigated. “There is so much ill-discipline among people not to follow the government regulations. All complaints raised by residents and travellers through the Bellville taxi rank have been brought to the attention of SAPS, the City law enforcement and our transport department within the city of Cape Town.”
Provincial police also told the Northern News that the matter was being investigated.
Ms Gerber hopes the authorities act swiftly. “Right now with the refugee camp on the one side and an illegal taxi rank on the other,” she said, “the market value of the houses in the area are dropping drastically and there is nothing we can do about it.”
When approached, taxi drivers told the Northern News that they had no other choice but to set up at the park because their regular spot had been taken over by the refugee tent. None of the drivers wanted to be named. Meanwhile, the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) said it would look into the matter.