No Decision to convert Joubert Park into Temporary taxi rank

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

“I would like to categorically state that the JDA has no intention to do this,” said Thanduxolo Mendrew, Chief Executive Officer of the JDA.

“No decision in respect of the temporary relocation of the taxis to Joubert Park or any other possible alternatives has been taken as reported in the media, he added. “The JDA has a proud record of sustainable inner city regeneration including in respect of Parks such as the new Metro Park and the revitalisation of the Ernest Oppenheimer Park.

The JDA is planning a twenty-two 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 trading 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 around the park.

However to refurbish Jack Mincer, alternative space for ranking and holding of mini bus taxis s is required .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 mini bus taxis.

The agency has approached many private and public property and land owners for space with no success, “Joubert Park is being explored as a last resort” says Thanduxolo Mendrew. “Our aim is that once the facility has been completed, the JDA would undertake a reconstruction of Joubert Park as an urban park which will retain its status both as a heritage space and the much needed green lung in the City.” He further reiterated that this option is currently an internal technical discussion and that should it be 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 limited to the taxi industry, commuter bodies, informal trading structures and heritage bodies.

The extension of the Jack Mincer mini bus 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 serves 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 included the stabilisation of the railway embankments adjacent to Noord Street.

City of Johannesburg’s Executive Director for Transport, Lisa Seftel says “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.”

“The development of user friendly transport facilities assists with achieving a people centric approach to development, Seftel added.

“The JDA together with City of Johannesburg’s Transport department wish to call on inner city stakeholders 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” says Mendrew. The JDA is well placed as it has done in other areas to implement a process for further investment into the 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.

Issued by the City of Johannesburg