Below are few excerpts of a plan that looks at using Joubert Park as a temoporary taxi facility. A number of heritage groups oppose this move and have recommended finding an alternative solution asap. They also point out that a full HIA (with full participation) will have to be done.
- At the moment the Inner City has ranking facilities for 4 000 taxis, leaving the other 1 800 taxis to rank and hold on the streets. This is one of the key reasons for traffic congestion in the Inner City. The need to improve the quality of life of commuters, streamline the flow of traffic and strengthen the commuting connections with the rail service all indicate that there is an urgent requirement to develop new integrated transport facilities with good access to Park Station.
- The existing Jack Mincer Taxi facility is not functioning optimally for numerous reasons. Firstly The Jack Mincer Taxi Facility has experienced increased traffic volumes causing the capacity of the facility to be exceeded and the services in and around the facility becoming dis-functional. Secondly there is conflict between vehicular and pedestrian traffic which results in taxi congestions (no clear access and egress to the facility) and safety hazards for commuters. Thirdly the replacement of the Hi-ace minibus vehicles with the Quantums and Sprinter vehicles poses a height restriction problem into the lower basement. The lower basement is also prone to flooding and has no ventilation. Due to inaccessibility to this basement, not only can the facility not accommodate the number of taxis it was initially designed to, but it poses a serious health and safety threat for the users of the facility. This in turn raises reputational and legal liability concerns for the City.
- In sum, the facility is in desperate need of a major upgrade. Consequently, the JDA Business Plan has prioritized the renovation and extension of this facility to try and resolve the challenges within the current and next financial years.
The proposed scope of works
- The proposed remedial actions for the facility are to extend the existing structure by utilizing the existing founding capacity and column configuration. The current lower basement will be retained and utilised for a mixture of storage for traders and taxi holding. The current upper basement will be demolished to increase head room for larger vehicles to access the area and allow more light and air into the subterranean volume. The street level / ground floor will be retained for taxi ranking / loading with the accommodation of some trading stalls. An intermediate / mezzanine level will be converted into a food court which will accommodate some informal traders who provided cooked food as well as limited complimentary informal trading. The required offices and boardrooms for the facility management and maintenance staff will also be accommodated on this level. The existing roof will remain and will be utilised for taxi ranking / loading. Micro piles will be installed to increase the foundation capacity in order to support the construction of an additional 3 floors which will increase the facilities holding capacity.
- A free drainage system, large grease traps with enough pump capacity to pump out rain water and refuse will be provided as well as air extraction fans in the basement, sufficient ablution facilities on every level and better lighting which can be easily maintained and resilient towards vandalism. Offices and boardrooms will also be provided for the taxi operators as well as space allocated for a possible satellite JMPD and / or SAPS office and a small clinic. Access and egress will be addressed with an additional vehicular entrance and exit provided, and as far as possible, measures will be put in place to clearly demarcate and channel pedestrians in order to separate their movements from that of the vehicles.
- It is evident that the design is constrained by the existing structure and the confined space in which the current facility is located. Accordingly, the ability to increase the capacity of the facility is severely restricted. It is therefore unlikely that the upgraded facility will be able to accommodate the full fleet of each association currently operating from the facility and it most certainly will not be able to accommodate any future growth. The facility will however be designed in order to ensure optimal functionality ie. the facility will be designed to accommodate as many taxis ranking and holding as possible but without negatively impacting on the ability of the taxis to enter, exit and circulate within the facility. The upgrade will also ensure a physically improved, safer and healthier environment for all users.
- The construction of the proposed interventions will take approximately 17 to 22 months.
The requirement for temporary taxi relocation sites
- The review of the current facility’s design reveals that it would be impossible to construct whilst the taxis are operating due to safety concerns raised by the complex nature of the demolition and piling works to be undertaken. Accordingly the holding and ranking operations need to be relocated during the construction period.
- A temporary relocation plan for the taxis has been prepared and discussed with the taxi associations operating from the Jack Mincer Taxi Facility who have all agreed to the proposals. However challenges experienced in relation to obtaining temporary relocation sites within the Inner City are the scarcity of available loading and holding space (vacant land or buildings) especially within close proximity to the existing facility, very short timeframes to conclude the process and some property owners of the identified sites not being located whilst those located demand high monthly rental fees for their properties.
- It was in an attempt to mitigate some of these challenges, that Joubert Park was identified as a possible solution for the ranking requirements.
The advantages of using the park are that it:
- is City owned and therefore the City should save significantly on a reduced monthly lease vs the exorbitant private property rates
- It is in close proximity to the Jack Mincer rank
- It will reduce the logistical challenges for commuters as they will be directed to one place versus several different locations
- Businesses in the area [in particular the shopping centers] will be less negatively impacted as their customer base will remain in the ward as opposed to being directed to other areas
- It will prevent any possible tensions which may arise between the Jack Mincer taxi associations and others whose routes may come into conflict if the Jack Mincer operators are moved into other areas
The intention would be to pay a monthly lease to City Parks for the duration of the construction period, during which security and cleaning services will be provided. Furthermore, JDA will request budget to upgrade the park on completion which upgrade will include an improved interface between the Park and the Johannesburg Art Gallery, and a possible upgrade and / or relocation of the Clinic.
Risks associated with using the park :
- Security – security will be provided and facilities within the park such as the crèche and the clinic will be cordoned off. In addition, JDA had previously implemented CCTV cameras in the park which are monitored by JMPD.
- Cleaning – cleaning services will be provided
- Degradation of the park – budget will be timeously requested for the reinstatement / upgrade of the park from the Inner City Fund to ensure that implementation of the upgrade occurs as soon as the taxis are relocated back to the taxi facility
- Displacement of current park users – identify other parks in close proximity, liaise we City Parks on the schedule of activities taking place in the park / events planned for the park and assist in relocating same, liaise with local NGO’s to identify alternative activities for park users during construction