No decision to convert Joubert Park into temporary taxi holding facility has been made

MEDIA RELEASE

17 September 2015

The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) would like to respond to concerns raised in petitions and the media about the allegation that the City of Johannesburg is converting Joubert Park into a temporary taxi rank.

"I would like to state upfront is that the JDA is not intending to do this," said Thanduxolo Mendrew, Chief Executive Officer of the JDA.

"Furthermore, there is no recommendation in respect of the temporary relocation of the taxis to Joubert Park or to any of the other possible alternatives, which is being reported in the media," he added. "The JDA has a proud record of sustainable inner city regeneration and of public spaces, particularly parks, including for example the new Metro Park and the revitalisation of the Ernest Oppenheimer Park."

The background and context to this discussion, is that the JDA is planning a 22-month construction programme to refurbish the Jack Mincer taxi facility to accommodate some of the large number of taxis that currently rank and hold in the streets within the Park Station Precinct.

The aim of the project is to influence the movement of taxis to reduce traffic congestion in the area, create a welcoming environment for commuters, and help formalise and provide appropriate space for informal trade. It will also remove a large number of taxis that are ranking alongside Joubert Park, thus creating a safer and cleaner environment for park residents.

However, to proceed with the refurbishment of Jack Mincer, alternative space for ranking and holding of minibus taxis must be made available. To this end the JDA, together with the City of Johannesburg's Transport Department, embarked on an extensive exploratory process to find temporary suitable accommodation for the taxis and informal trading in and around the Jack Mincer taxi facility. One of the options being explored is Joubert Park, with the intention to refurbish and revitalise the park after the temporary relocation of the minibus taxis.

To date, the Agency has approached many private and public property and land owners to secure this space, but with no success.

"Joubert Park is being put forward as a last resort", said Thanduxolo Mendrew. He further reiterated that this option is currently under internal technical discussion, and that if it should become a plausible option the JDA would start an intensive consultative participatory process with all relevant stakeholders as well as interested and affected parties, which would include but not be limited to the taxi industry, commuter bodies, informal trading structures and heritage bodies.

"The JDA together with City of Johannesburg's Transport department wish to reiterate the call on inner city stakeholders, both public and private, that can assist us in finding a location where taxis could be relocated to enable us to continue with the extension and redevelopment of the Jack Mincer Taxi Facility", said Mendrew.

The extension of the Jack Mincer minibus facility forms part of the bigger Commuter Links development which the JDA has been implementing over the last six years. The Commuter Links are characterised as a heavily pedestrianized route lined with traders and serving as an important link between public transit facilities such as Park Station, Park City Taxi Rank, the Jack Mincer Taxi Rank, and the Rea Vaya Station on Twist Street. It also links these transport facilities to the Bridge Shopping Centre and to Park Central Shopping Centre.

Sections completed include Noord Street between Klein and Hoek Streets, and King George between De Villiers and Plein Streets. Works completed also include the stabilisation of the railway embankments adjacent to Noord Street.

The City of Johannesburg's Executive Director for Transport, Lisa Seftel, said: "The introduction of the Rea Vaya BRT and the national commuter rail plan, envisaging a major overhaul of core commuter lines across the country, represents an opportunity to transform public transportation in the inner city. Improved public transportation infrastructure in the inner city could become a major catalyst for regeneration."

Promoting resilient city strategies by restructuring spatial logic is a primary objective in building a sustainable and liveable inner city through:

  • Targeted investment in transit nodes (including Gautrain stations, commuter rail stations, Rea Vaya bus stations and key taxi facilities such as Jack Mincer and Kazerne).
  • The establishment of new mobility systems that promote non-motorised transport and mass public transport.
  • Strengthening the position of the inner city as a critical business and affordable residential node, and the primary gateway to transit networks for the city, the city region, the country and the continent.

The Inner City Transformation Plan promotes social cohesion and places emphasis on an urban environment and system which consciously nurtures the evolution of a more cohesive society. This will manifest in some of the investment choices made - i.e. a city-sponsored public transportation system, well located and maintained social amenities (such as parks), and a participatory approach to planning and development.

Seftel further indicated that as a City, "we have a plan to improve mobility, and we've demonstrated this employing the managed lanes concept, which includes dedicated cycling lanes, widened sidewalks for walkability, and dedicated bus lanes. All of these complement the pedestrianisation of the inner city, putting the needs of the multitudes who walk the inner city first by providing them with that ease of movement. The development of user-friendly transport facilities assists with achieving this people-centric approach to development."

The development, rehabilitation and preservation of green spaces to improve the liveability of the inner city for residents and provide much needed recreation space has been the major driver in the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the City's parks.

The JDA has implemented the development of inner city parks such as the inner city Metro Park, Attwell Gardens and Ernest Oppenheimer Park, with the main aim of providing recreational space to users and residents of the inner city, as well as to celebrate the City's heritage and tell the history of the area.

"The JDA is well placed, as it has done in other areas, to implement a process for further investment into Joubert Park once Jack Mincer is completed, taking into consideration the link with the Johannesburg Art Gallery, current structures and operations in the park, as well as the preservation of the heritage aspects," Seftel concluded.

ENDS

Issued by:
City of Johannesburg

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