Taxis forgotten in valley roadworks

Spaanschemat River and Orpen roads, between Constantia Main and Tokai Circle are among others to receive 1.5m wide pavements and 1.5m wide cycle lanes.

The City forgot to accommodate taxis and there are no embayments planned for them to pull over and drop passengers.

This claim, made in an article published on the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA) website, and subsequently shared on its Facebook page, has drawn diverse views.

Peter Stenslunde, who heads up the portfolio of transport for CRRA, confirmed that no additional taxi bays had been planned for.

The author of the article, whose identity the CRRA would not divulge, also writes that queries to the various consultants employed (onsite) remain unanswered.

“Taxis cannot pull over because of the pavement and (will) now stop in the middle of the road,” they write.

According to a notice, posted in the writer’s letterbox, the above works include: widening of roads to accommodate a proposed cycle lane; asphalt surfacing of the sidewalks and respective driveways; segmented paving along the proposed western sidewalk; installation of stormwater infrastructure; installation of concrete edging along the edge of the sidewalk, which will extend to the existing boundary at the driveways only; and dropping of kerbs at driveways and carriageway crossings where required.

The work is being done by Strata Civils and is estimated to be completed by the end of this year.

When asked whether taxis had been taken into account during the planning stages, Mayco member for transport, Brett Herron, said this non-motorised transport project was aimed at improving the safety of the “most vulnerable road users” – those who walk or cycle to their destinations, or make use of the roads for recreational activities.

He says a household survey done in 2012 of 26 000 homes found that up to one-third of low-income households walk to work or school or social amenities.

“The project’s main focus is to connect commuters to various public transport modes, including taxis,” he says.

Mr Herron says traffic lights were added as they were already due for installation but had to be suitable to facilitate cycle lanes as well.

Mr Herron said no impact assessment had been done as the construction would not affect traffic.

Retreat Taxi Association chairman Basil Nagel, who has been a voice for the taxi industry for many years, says his association, which services the southern part of the Constantia Valley, had not been consulted about construction of the pavements and cycle tracks.

“The City is using old apartheid legislation and not listening to communities, it’s very arrogant,” he says.

“The minibus taxi industry wake up in the morning and the city is standing by with bulldozers ready to go, consultation with affected parties are merely an afterthought. For City officials, it is far easier to ask forgiveness, than permission,” says Mr Nagel.

He adds that transport solutions should be multi-modal as it provides relief on the roads.

“Bike lanes are a welcomed green solution, however, what kind of city planning takes place in complete isolation of the affected communities? What type of impact assessment puts a solution in place that exacerbates an existing problem? Add a bit of chaos to an existing taxi issue and suddenly fuel is added to the fire,” says Mr Nagel.