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Mansel Road

Mansel Rd, Off Umgeni Rd.

For years buses, filled mainly with groups of women, have come to Durban from afar to shop. The shoppers would typically travel on a Sunday, arrive at about midnight, and then leave at mid-morning the next day in order to be back at work on Tuesday. Bus drivers would drop their passengers in the Grey Street area, then park on vacant land at nearby Block AK to sleep, prior to the long haul back home. While huge amounts of cash were injected into the local economy as a result, this nocturnal commerce led to various problems for the city. The drivers would take their passengers to the tourist facilities on the beach front to wash and shower during the early hours. Opportunistic traders would trade out of their car-boots for a few hours, further exacerbating the problem and leaving visitors to the beachfront faced with messy facilities. The problem was compounded by ‘drum ladies’ who lived in unsightly squalor on the edge of the CBD, selling recycled plastic drums, vital tools in the water-starved, rural areas. The Mansel Road bus station was based on turning these problems into an opportunity. Facilities include charter bus parking, housing for the ‘drum ladies’, a bathhouse, temporary accommodation, stalls for dressmakers to sell their wares and space for car-boot sales. All proposals were modeled and workshopped to get buy-in from the ‘drum ladies’, with forty-four subsidised, two-bedroom units built to accommodate them. A central bath-house includes solar-heated showers, whose waste water is used to flush the toilets. A central shopkeeper keeps the facility clean and sells warm water.