A taxi rank in Port Elizabeth has been operating without functioning public toilets for the past seven years. Commuters hide behind food stalls to relieve themselves, while others use a dilapidated building nearby.
The Crossroad Taxi Rank in Motherwell is the busiest taxi rank in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in the mornings. Thousands of commuters use it. It is run by Uncedo Taxi Association.
Rank manager Lunga Jikani explained: “I don’t remember this place having a public toilet.The municipality built that building in 2010 with the intention of turning it into toilets but it was never opened to the public. The infrastructure is now an eyesore and dilapidating. Vandals stripped all the valuables because no one took care of it. It was just left to decay.”
Jikani said: “It is really embarrassing to see our valued commuters squatting behind those shacks to relieve themselves. Where is the culture of Ubuntu if adults are seen by their children relieving in public? It is also not healthy to residents who live around this area. We have been complaining for many years to the municipality about the need for public toilets but our efforts have so far been fruitless.”
“These shacks are used by food vendors to prepare and sell their food from. It becomes very dangerous to health when people relieve themselves at the back of the shacks. We also need a public water tap for us and the commuters to use,” he said.
Neliswa (surname withheld by GroundUp) lives in NU 8 and works as a domestic worker in Mount Pleasant. She said: “I had a running stomach a couple of weeks ago. It was a scary experience because I had to plead with the taxi driver to stop along the N2 Freeway so I could use the bush to relieve myself. I felt embarrassed and lost my dignity. The municipality should repair that toilet for commuters to use.”
A resident who refused to say his name but lives near the taxi rank said: “We are faced with the problem of escalating crime at this rank when it is in the night.The robbers hide in that disused toilet and launch their attacks from there.The building should either be demolished or repaired to deter criminals from using it.The municipality should do something urgently.”
Spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Mthubanzi Mniki, told GroundUp: “The situation will be followed up. We understand that issues of public toilets are also issues of dignity. It will be prioritised. The relevant department has already been informed.”