Durban — Oceans Umhlanga Development has slammed accusations of neglecting the taxi industry after last month’s taxi blockade in the area by minibus drivers who demanded parking in the multi-billion rand establishment.
Speaking to the Daily News on Wednesday, chief executive officer Brian Mpono of Oceans Umhlanga has slammed these allegations. He said that the Daily Maverick’s report was aimed at creating a false narrative that Oceans uMhlanga did not enjoy a positive relationship with the public transportation stakeholders.
Mpono said that the publication’s article was a lie.
“The article said that the mall’s management was given a chance to reply to the allegations of neglecting the taxi association and not allowing them to use the premises' parking.
“The management of Oceans uMhlanga was not afforded the right to reply and refute these misleading allegations including the sensational and false headline,” said Mpono.
He further said that the Daily Maverick’s journalist’s attempt to contrast the management’s development with public transport requirements was a deceitful propaganda tactic.
“This misleading portrayal aims to agitate the public by portraying Oceans uMhlanga as indifferent to community well-being and public transportation. This assertion is not just false, but egregiously misleading.
“All aspects of our development have always taken into consideration the needs of public transportation,” said Mpono.
Mpono also revealed that the extension of the taxi parking lot was under way and would be finished in the next two weeks.
This taxi parking lot will cater for more than 90 taxis.
“We wish to highlight that Oceans uMhlanga was only obliged to provide a taxi facility that can accommodate approximately 42 taxis.
“However, Oceans uMhlanga, together with the eThekwini Municipality, doubled the number, building the facility catering for over 90 taxi bays, expected to be completed this month.
“Fifty percent of the facility is already in use by the taxis, and this helps to alleviate the current challenges experienced in the lower uMhlanga area,” said Mpono.
In a media statement on Wednesday, eThekwini Transport Authority said that it and the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) would conduct a site visit of the new taxi rank on Friday.
The aim of the visit is to find lasting solutions to the mall taxi rank challenge.
“As part of the city’s ongoing short-term discussions with the uMhlanga Oceans Mall developers, it has been proposed that there should be an extension of the current ranking site to accommodate 90 bays for holding and ranking,” said eThekwini.
Santaco KZN spokesperson Sifiso Shangase has applauded the Oceans uMhlanga management for extending the parking lot facility.
“We are happy about that because we have been wishing for a parking facility to avoid disturbing other transport.
“It is very important to applaud them for taking responsibility to extend the parking facility. I do believe that a space for 90 taxis will make a huge difference,” said Shangase.
He also said that this should be a lesson whenever there is such development. Public transport space must always be considered to avoid incidents.
Santaco Greater North Taxi Association chairperson Sifiso Mthethwa said: “We would go to the site and witness what they are talking about.”
Daily Maverick founder and Editor-in-chief Branko Brkic said: “We stand by our reporting.”
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