On Wednesday, 21 August 2019, the executive mayor of Tshwane, Cllr Stevens Mokgalapa, led a sod-turning ceremony to mark the start of construction of a multi-million-rand state-of-the-art taxi rank on the corner of South Street and Hendrik Verwoerd Drive in Centurion's central business district.
This project is a public-private partnership with JSE-listed diversified real estate investment trust Redefine Properties, which meets the goals of fundamentally changing spaces in a way that changes lives and solves problems the community and commuters are facing.
The new taxi rank in the shadows of Centurion Mall will cover an area of approximately 10 000 m2, and provide ranking facilities for 55 taxis as well as a holding area for an additional 100 taxis. The rank will also house offices for taxi associations, 22 informal kiosks for traders and public toilets, amongst a host of other amenities.
Estimated to cost R12 million, the project is being funded by Redefine Properties and will be managed under a joint steering committee which includes the City of Tshwane, Centurion Taxi Association and Redefine.
The rank will be operated by the Centurion Taxi Association and jointly managed by the City, Centurion Mall and the Association. It is estimated that more than 15 000 commuters will use the new facility when it opens in 2020. The new facility will not only improve access to taxis for those who live and work in the city, but also complement the area aesthetically.
Councillor Sheila Senkubuge, MMC responsible for Roads and Transport, said: "This emphasises the fact that our City is open for business and will partner with private industry in making sure that we are able to deliver services to the people.
"This project also ensures that our taxis have proper places to park and commuters have safe spaces from where they can access public transport. This is the vision of our new administration; this is an example of what we want to do around the entire city."
The new rank sets an example by bringing the taxi industry into the mainstream formal economy as vital players and movers. This enabled formalisation could make a significant difference to the industry, and more so, enhance maturity on the roads, compared to enforced formalisation. This well-supported transition to a dynamic formal economy could be a potent example for other developers and firms to emulate.
Nashil Chotoki, Redefine Properties' National Asset Manager: Retail said, "The taxi rank will ease travel to and from the mall as well as provide commuters and families with a safe and reliable transit hub in their midst."
Redefine's Challenge Convention, a concept launched last year seeks to bring all stakeholders, including community representatives, NGO's, tenants, shoppers and entrepreneurial-minded thinkers, together around Redefine buildings to go through a process to distinguish and prioritise the most pressing community needs and find ways and means of delivering tangible outcomes.
"The announcement resulted from talks that have been ongoing for over three years involving the Council, Centurion Mall and the taxi associations active in the area. It aligns perfectly with our belief that an investment in transit is an investment in the surrounding community," adds Peter Sutton, councillor for Ward 78, Centurion and chairperson of the Section 79 Oversight Committee: Finance.
"The new facility betters the commuting options for residents to help connect them to work, schools, medical facilities and shopping. Connectivity is a key element of our comprehensive regional transit strategy and contributes to economic growth by efficiently connecting between people and job opportunities."
"We are also entirely happy that this is directly linked to the Centurion Mall, because we have been looking at different developments, especially shopping malls and so forth, to ensure that they have proper public transport facilities. This speaks to the vision that the department has to make sure that public transport, not only for commuters but for operators as well, is able to function in a safe space that benefits the people," added Cllr Senkubuge.
The development will be on Council land and all Council and infrastructural requirements will be the responsibility of the City. The rank will be completed during the first quarter of 2020. In the interim, the taxis will continue to operate from the temporary site until the new rank is opened.