The station is the area behind the station mall, used by taxis and a small handful of combis [Broadhurst combis]. The bus rank is situated behind Rail Park mall. That’s where the taxis as well combis and buses are.
The combis at the bus rank generally cover the Greater Gaborone areas, while those at the station generally cover various areas within Gaborone. But do take the time to check and re-confirm before you set off.
Which combi do I need?
I feel that both the station and bus rank could benefit from a serious overhaul. For starters, they could use clear signs and platforms to help passengers identify where the taxis, buses and combis they need are. I’m not talking about anything flashy, as I understand everything boils down to money. Something akin to the Maun bus rank, but with clear, bold signage would suffice. The station and bus rank can be daunting at the best of times without having to worry about how to navigate the chaotic and overcrowded spaces.
A platform and clear, bold signs would help
There’s simply no rhyme nor reason as to what taxis/buses/combis are which, or where they are headed. Well, unless you ask. But how many people have the courage to stop a total stranger to ask for directions, especially if they are new to the area? The station and bus rank are always heaving with bodies, and have been known to be the scene of some crime or other. Having said that, in spite of this, they actually look a lot rougher than they actually are. But even still, I’d stress the importance of keeping your wits about you at all times around those two areas.
Shelter from the elements would be most welcome
I think everyone would welcome some form of shelter over each area, because at the moment they are both out in the open, leaving people unprotected from the elements. If you’ve ever been in Botswana at the height of summer, you’ll understand why it would make sense to have some form of protection over the station and bus rank. The blistering Botswana heat can often see the mercury soar to 40+ Degrees Celsius and when the rain chucks it down complete with thunder, lightning and gale force wind, you don’t want to be caught up in any of it with nowhere to go.
Health and safety as well as hygiene a concern
Both stations have an abundance of street vendors; from hairdressers, people selling street food to sellers of local music, all operating under the open skies in one space. I’m sure most people would agree it’s not the most ideal or hygienic scenario for anyone. I’ve often wondered why both areas aren’t cleaned up and made to them look friendlier and more inviting. I’ve wondered why there aren’t small units aren’t set up from which the vendors can to operate. Not only would all these various vendors feel a sense of worth, but also the whole place would feel safer.
Where are the public toilets?!
Something worth noting is that there are no public toilets at either the station or bus rank. People going through to the bus rank can, however, take advantage of the Rail Park Mall toilets. But if you are caught short and are too far from the facilities, especially if going back may mean having to miss your bus, you have nowhere to go. Again, I think setting up decent public toilets for the countless people who pass through the station and the bus rank would be great. Even if it meant having people pay P0.20 -0.50 per visit, I’m willing to bet many would be happy to pay it to access the bathroom.
What is that smell?!
If you cross over from the CBD area or the Fire brigade through the side gate, be warned- there’s a particularly repugnant stench of stale urine that hits you square in the face. I can only surmise people get caught short, and because they have nowhere to relieve themselves, they urinate wherever they can; another reason why I feel the station and bus rank could do with sprucing up, including the construction of decent toilets.
The lighting is a little too dim at night
If you’ve ever been to the bus rank at night, you’ll know how dark it gets. This adds to the eerie atmosphere, which only heightens your sense of trepidation. If you’re a scaredy cat like me, you’ll be left quaking in your boots because the bus rank truly becomes a little creepy at night. Again, it looks scarier than it actually is, but in the moment you just don’t want to be there because it feels unsafe.
Do you agree or disagree? What developments would you like to see at the station and/or bus rank that you feel would improve your life? Please share your views with YourBotswana.
Picture credit: Motlalepula Chika