For a few weeks now at the OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA), taxis have suddenly, without warning or explanation, been instructed to make their passenger pick-up point on the first floor parking near the rental car space.
Passengers were not warned in advance nor was there an explanation on how or why these changes would take place.
As a result, thousands of passengers arriving at ORTIA have been left lost and confused as to where they may hail a taxi, whilst also being exposed to criminal elements.
Reports to the DA from international tourists unfamiliar with ORTIA tell us of how, in some cases, they are lost for hours whilst attempting to find a taxi.
Countries with successful tourism industries do everything they can to make tourists comfortable and their arrival as easy, slick and effortless as possible. However, it appears that ACSA and ORTIA have no interest in this and show a total disregard for foreign tourist who bring valuable foreign currency that we so desperately need.
At the same time, my unannounced inspections this week and last week at ORTIA show that many entrances remain locked, making it even more difficult for passengers to navigate the airport.
There is no reason to continue to keep these entrances locked. The entrances were locked at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown and remain locked since.
Due to passengers having to be forced to move around the airport, and hail taxis, in a clumsy manner whilst simultaneously experiencing minimal security, there have been reports of criminal incidents since these sudden changes took place.
We are aware of at least one incident where a foreign tourist was coerced to a quiet part of the airport where he was robbed of his belongings, whilst a German tourist was robbed of $10 000.
Despite these incidents, ACSA and ORTIA appear to do nothing to combat this.
I will be writing to the CEO and Board Chair of ACSA as well as the CEO of ORTIA in this regard, enquiring why these changes took place in the manner they did, what they intend doing to fix these issues and what will be done to make the arrival to Gauteng by tourists and other passengers as pleasant, safe, stress-free and comfortable as possible.
What is taking place at ORTIA is a microcosm of the failed state we witness on a daily basis at all levels and sectors of society in South Africa. This will change when the DA takes over government, ensuring that the tourist arrival experience is the best it can possibly be.
by Manny de Freitas MP – DA Shadow Minister of Tourism