Interim plans needed for transport interchange

There might be big plans for Bellville’s big transport hub further down the road, but right now it’s a mess and swift action is needed to tackle a management “crisis” there, says a city councillor.

Ward 10’s Jacoline Visser says immediate plans are needed to see to the day-to-day running of the transport hub used by thousands of commuters daily, and Sub-council 6 has backed her motion calling for an urgent meeting with the City’s transport and urban development authority to discuss proposed projects for the interchange, the management crisis and simmering frustrations among traders.

In her motion, Ms Visser said other issues included urban decay, poor lighting, unhealthy facilities and a lack of policing.

Sub-council 6 chairwoman Rose Rau said that while the long-term plans were something to look forward to, the interchange still needed to be managed properly in the interim.

Bellville is Cape Town’s second CBD and is home to five hospitals and three university campuses. About 180 000 people pass through the area daily.

Last year, the City announced that the CBD would form part of five projects in key areas across the metro to improve public transport infrastructure and kickstart economic development (“Transport plans set in motion,” Northern News, August 4 2016). However, this will only take place over the next five years.

According to Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for area central, there are 80 legal traders and about 180 illegal ones at Bellville’s transport interchange. And, he said, there was a perception among the legal traders that while they needed to stick to the rules – getting permits, paying trading fees and trading in designated bays – the illegal traders could do as they pleased.

But Mr Mamkeli said the illegal traders did not have it as easy as some of the legal traders thought they did.

“Ilegal traders are fined and their goods impounded by law enforcement. The area is monitored periodically by law enforcement with regular joint operations carried out to remove illegal traders,” he said.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development said the City’s transport authority was responsible for the management and general maintenance of the facility, where he said a cleaning contractor worked 24/7 and private security patrolled.

But Bellville police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Henrietta van Niekerk said theft, especially of cellphones, was rife at the interchange despite police officers patrolling the area regularly.

“Theft is occurring regularly due to the daily influx of people with items such as cellphones, purses, money and other small items being taken,” she said.

Mr Herron said the City and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) were looking at a way to integrate rail, MyCiTi buses, taxis and non-motorised transport into one hub that was safer and more convenient for commuters.

“We are currently developing the concept and the contractual arrangements,” he said.

The City has also started a three-year project to upgrade Kruskal Avenue as well as Elizabeth Park through to Jack Muller Park.

And, just last week, council approved the City’s revised Built Environment Performance Plan (BEPP) which directs where the City will spend its capital budget for the next financial year.

According to a City statement, the bulk of that R6.8 billion budget will go into projects located in three integration zones, one of which is the Voortrekker Road Corridor, which hosts the business districts of Bellville, Maitland, Parow, Goodwood and Salt River.Over the next two financial years the City says it will invest about R1.4 billion in capital projects in the Voortrekker Road Corridor integration zone.

Ms Rau said the sub-council wanted a dignified space to be created that was safe for all.

“With all the various projects that have been identified, the wheels are starting to turn,” she said.