By Loyiso Dyongman
Informal vendors and commuters at the busy Queen Street taxi rank in Makhanda are relieving themselves in bushes because the toilets have been locked since 2021.
“We use those bushes in the small river. It becomes very difficult when it is raining and you have to go to the wet bushes. The municipality is to blame. They know that many people use these toilets,” says Fundiswa Rasmeni, who has been selling goods at the taxi rank for years.
In August 2021, we reported on complaints that the toilets, used by taxi drivers, commuters and vendors, were locked, despite the Makana municipality’s claim that the filthy toilets had been repaired and are in use.
GroundUp visited the taxi rank recently and found that the toilet gates were locked with padlocks. They are the only public toilets in the area.
Monwabisi Komeni, a taxi driver, told GroundUp that, “We have reported and complained to the municipality about this years ago, but nobody bothered to follow up. It’s very sad seeing the old women, who sell fruit and other stuff, going to these bushes. This is a busy taxi rank.”
Another taxi driver, Lusanda Mangcu, said most of them wait until they are close to home or go to the Market Square Mall toilets where they have to pay a R2 entry fee. “Some people are now urinating and defecating outside the toilets and this is causing a stink,” said Mangcu.
Ward 8 Councillor Cary Clark (DA) said she wrote to Municipal Manager Phumelelo Kate but never got a response. “I had put a motion in to the Council for more public toilets in the CBD quite some time back but have heard nothing. I’m still waiting for [Kate] to get back to me.” Clark said she was informed that the toilets are open to the public.
Questions sent to municipal spokesperson Anele Mjekula two weeks ago have gone unanswered. We also contacted the municipality manager but to no avail.