Previously, minibus-taxis at the informal rank in Nomzamo operated from a potholed asphalt surface with inadequate food and seating facilities, no bathrooms and very little shelter against the elements.
‘All of this has changed since Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, came up with a new design focused on providing the residents of Nomzamo with a dignified space where they can board taxis and socialise,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.
Since the opening of the new taxi rank on 17 August 2015, at least 115 minibus-taxis have been operating from this facility opposite the local community hall just off Michael Street, transporting more than 20 000 local residents to destinations in Somerset West, Gordon’s Bay, Heldervue, Strand and Stellenbosch each week.
‘When Lwandle was established in 1958 by the then apartheid government to accommodate the workers for the nearby fruit and canning industry, no effort was made to provide the migrant workers with decent public open spaces and facilities. Given the township’s history, rapid development and the increase in the population in Nomzamo, there are few open public spaces where residents can get together. Thus, when Transport for Cape Town started drawing up the plans for the taxi rank, we kept in mind that the residents of Nomzamo would not only use the facility for boarding a taxi, but that it would soon also become a meeting place for socialising, eating and shopping,’ said Councillor Herron.
Minibus-taxi operators from CATA Lwandle operate six routes from the taxi rank, with the peak operating periods being between 06:00 and 09:00 on week days. The majority of the commuters either travel for work purposes to the Somerset West and Stellenbosch central business districts and the Somerset Mall, or to the Strand railway station. Counting among them are also domestic workers travelling to Gordon’s Bay and Heldervue.
‘The new rank seeks to accommodate the minibus-taxis in the most efficient manner, reducing the conflict of turning movements with the traffic on Michael Street. Our main focus, however, was on the safety and comfort of pedestrians and as such the roadway along Michael Street which passes through the minibus-taxi precinct has been raised and paved with a grey interlocking concrete paver so that drivers are aware that they are entering a public transport area with a high number of pedestrians. Furthermore, and in accordance with the City’s Universal Access Policy, the entire facility is wheelchair-friendly with dropped kerbs at the crossings and with kerbs at a raised height at the loading areas, making it easier for passengers in wheelchairs to get onto the taxis,’ said Councillor Herron.
Overhead canopies have been provided at the loading areas, as well as the pedestrian walkways, providing commuters with protection against the sun and rain. Low walls and bollards under the trees can be used for seating and there are a number of refuse bins to discourage littering.
Apart from an administration building with a boardroom for meetings, the facility is also equipped with a security tower that has an unobstructed view of the taxi rank, adjacent soccer kick-about fields, and pedestrian avenue in front of the community centre. The manager’s office has a staff toilet and kitchen, and commuters have access to four male and female toilets, as well as a toilet for those with special needs.
‘A wash bay, accommodating two minibus-taxis at a time, has been constructed. It is fitted with an overhead canopy and metered water supply, as well as an underground oil separator, preventing oil and grease from entering the sewer system. This is a great business opportunity for a local entrepreneur who wishes to operate from the facility,’ said Councillor Herron.
TCT has also constructed six kiosks for local traders and entrepreneurs wishing to cook and sell food. Each kiosk has been provided with water, wash basins, fat traps, and an extractor. The water and electricity costs will be recovered from the traders as each kiosk is also separately metered.
‘We started with construction of the Nomzamo taxi rank in May last year and to date we have spent nearly R12 million. Following on from our first ever green taxi rank in Wallacedene, Nomzamo’s taxi rank also uses a rooftop solar photovoltaic panel system for electricity generation. There are 68 solar panels on the roof, arrayed at optimum orientation to the sun. The solar panels provide sufficient electricity for the office building and 16% of the entire facility’s electricity during the peak periods, inclusive of the trading kiosks. As is the case in Wallacedene, the taxi rank in Nomzamo will soon be equipped with batteries for the storage of reserve solar electricity to be used at night or on cloudy days, ensuring it can operate completely off the electricity grid,’ said Councillor Herron.
Until such time as the taxi rank operates completely off the electricity grid, the City will still see huge savings in electricity costs.
‘In 2011, Transport for Cape Town conducted a condition assessment of all of the public transport facilities across the city. At that time, the taxis in Nomzamo operated from an informal taxi rank where commuters and taxi operators had no shelter against bad weather or access to proper facilities. We have transformed that space into this new public transport interchange where residents now have a safe and dignified area for waiting and connecting with their fellow commuters. I am confident that the local community will benefit significantly from this investment for years to come and that it will help to improve the quality of life of our residents in Nomzamo,’ said Councillor Herron.