White elephant taxi rank 1 step closer to being opened

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Bloemfontein's R400-million taxi rank. PHOTO: REFILWE GAESWE

The Mangaung intermodal transport facility which has been standing vacant since its completion in 2012, will now be leased to the Free State taxi association for the next 30 years. The municipal council voted in favour of the unsolicited bid during a special council meeting held on Wednesday 14 December 2016.

During debates, the DA rejected the bid, stating that it felt like a money making scheme for the ANC. They said that the taxi rank, which cost R400 million, was fruitless expenditure, and that the 2 page bid made by the Free State taxi association did not have enough information to make an informed decision on. They added that a business plan should be provided as the taxi association is not a property management association.

The EFF also rejected the bid, suggesting that they wait for the Public Protector to release the report on the taxi rank before any decisions can be made. The Freedom Front Plus argued that not enough information was given regarding the bid, and required more clarity on the public participation process. They also wanted more information on the conditions bid.

The ANC argued that the bid meant giving those who were previously disadvantaged the opportunity to grow their businesses. They also made the argument that the municipality had made a similar deal with the rugby stadium, which was similarly leased for 40 years. Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli says she was shocked that some councillors wanted to delay the opening of the taxi rank even further. She says national treasury has approved the lease between the municipality and the Free State Taxi Association.

“We are happy to start the process, we are going to say to them, here it is, let’s sit down and discuss how we are going to take it forward. But is not for free, we are going to check on how much they are gaining if they are gaining. It’s not mainly about business, it is also encapsulating service delivery to our people, because we can’t expect people to walk from Thaba Nchu to Bloemfontein,” added Mlamleli.

The municipality will now start preparing for public participation on the matter.

Seithati Semenokane / Courant News