National Environment Month: The environment of taxi ranks
Celebrated annually during the month of June, National Environment Month calls on South African government and captains of the industry to lead the way by stimulating awareness on environmental issues and challenging all to become agents of change.
Minibus taxi ranks around the country vary in size, location and design, but what they all have in common is the heavy presence of litter and grime. This leads to commuters and rank participants being subjected to terrible smells and unhygienic conditions which are breeding grounds for all sorts of nasty bacteria.
With minibus taxi ranks serving as notable places of formal and informal business activity, many people depend this facility as a connection to their source of income. Thousands of informal traders (or vendors) sell food, drinks, clothes and more to the commuters using the minibus taxis each day. Some of these vendors, who may not have suitable alternative means, bring their children to the ranks, thereby exposing them to a very unhealthy environment.
Although litter can be attributed to a lack of facilities – such as a lack of sufficient rubbish bins – the lack of environmental awareness is the largest contributing factor. So while litter cannot be destroyed, a lot of it can certainly be reused or recycled. Reducing waste is another key element that requires more education – consumables need to be packaged in tins, boxes or reusable bags, to avoid the excessive food packaging waste.
With the rising awareness of enrivonmental health and the prevelence of inner city recylcers, minibus taxi ranks have a unique opportunity to be a source of renewable change. It has been encouraging to see a number of progressive minubus taxi asociations and ranks take steps to enable the recycling ecosystem by connecting commuters to recyclers.
The Gauteng Township Economic Development Bill was recently tabled in provincial parliament with some interesting proposals, one of which was to develop taxi ranks into micro central business districts that support the taxi economy. Johannesburg’s Pikitup service spend R74 million each year collecting litter – imagine if that money could be spent on changing perceptions about littering, so the ranks could be sanitary, clean spaces for informal traders and vendors to create an inclusive economy?