Sunday, May 31, 2009

Trolley Works Exhibition!

Here is a selection of Christo Doherty's pictures from our exhibition opening on Friday night.


Cigarette Paper Diaries Rear View


Fashin MC's Erik and Andrew causing havoc


Andrew on the street soliciting people to come inside


Gilbert the Zambuch salesman.


Trolley Protest installation: Confiscated trolleys and
trolley protest video monitor and projection.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Abyssinia Coffee Tour

A guided trolley pusher tour of Joubert Park and the Fashion District:

Keith Trolley Tour

Trolley Works guided city tours celebrate the vibrancy, informality and cultural diversity present in down town Johannesburg. Tours begin in Joubert Park at the Drill Hall, an important historical landmark in our country’s history, and winds its way along the sidewalks between Noord and Park City taxi ranks. One can expect to see ‘bad buildings’, street markets and meander through dense pedestrian traffic; hear the beat of wedding songs, fashion diva’s and Africa’s rhythm; smell the aromas of Mozambican stew, braaied kebabs and fast food.

An astonishing amount of money is exchanged in this area daily through innovative informal business practices. A key feature of Joubert Park is the high density of people and traffic. Our tour highlights the challenges for a rapidly urbanizing African City. We hope to expose people to the urban contradictions present in the city and are attempting to address the need to walk in the downtown area of Johannesburg. Walking in Johannesburg is strongly linked to class, race, crime, fear and paranoia. The proposed tours attempt to address these challenges, whilst getting people thinking and contributing to a conversation related to the politics of public space in the city.

Trolley Works is a multi-disciplinary art project dedicated to the acknowledgment of the informal economic activities and cultural diversity present in our city. Come meet our team, have a laugh, walk the streets and experience the best coffee in the world.

Booking a tour

Tours run Monday to Saturday at 10h30 and again at 14h00

Tour duration: 2 hours

Price: R150 per person (Students and pensioners pay R100), contact us for special group tour prices – Prices include freshly made Ethiopian coffee.

Where: Drill Hall (Corner Twist and Plein Streets)

Call: 0725944263


Parking: Safe parking at the Drill Hall

Loitering Workshop - Drill Hall 16th May 2009

The Trolley Works Team in conjunction with the Africa Diaspora Forum are hosting a workshop dealing with the issue of 'loitering'. The team have been handing out flyers on the sidewalk, and empowering people about their rights.

Workshop Details:

When: Saturday 16th May 2009, 10:30am
Where: Drill Hall (Corner Twist and Plein Streets)
Contact: AFRICAN DIASPORA FORUM for free support (011.633.21.40)

All Welcome!!

What to do in case you are arrested for Loitering:
(Produced by the African Diaspora Forum)

1) If possible, take note of the POLICE CAR NUMBER (for instance HB07, Hillbrow car number 7), if you are not able to take note of the police officer’s name.

2) If arrested, ask for a NOTICE OF RIGHTS at the police station (it is compulsory for the police to give notice and explain why you are arrested).

3) Ask for a RECEIPT if you pay the fee to the police, or ADMISSION OF GUILT if you are not able to.

4) After your release, you can contact the AFRICAN DIASPORA FORUM for free support (011.633.21.40).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Loitering crap

If you are poor and black and happen to be on a sidewalk in downtown Joburg, there is a strong chance that you may have been arrested for loitering. In the past 2 months, the police have intensified their enforcement and have exclusively targeted poor black people, mainly street vendors and trolley pushers.

By virtue of its definition, loitering means standing around without intent. The people who are being arrested are entrepreneurial. People are being arrested for standing, walking, talking, sitting, selling, waiting...for being poor and black.

A feature of the enforcement campaign has been excessive bribery and corruption by the police officers. The price to be released on the street is R100. Recently both Hansa Monsaka and Keith Busani were arrested for loitering. Hansa was left handcuffed against a fence for most of the day as police waited to extract a bribe from him.

Police Truck Drill Hall

Much of the police activity has intensified with the onset of the BRT construction work downtown. There seems to be a coordinated effort by the city, to upgrade the road infrastructure as well as 'clean' the sidewalks of undesirable people - People who are not considered part of the vision for the regenerated city.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Advertise Here!!

bright red cartage trolley

advertise here

hansa trolley

We have just deployed our exciting new cartage trolleys. Our trolley factory is capable of producing 5 trolleys per week. Our goal is to produce 130 trolleys, and to date we have built 9 new trolleys.

We could really use your help to build more. Sponsor a trolley and get your brand seen on the streets of Joburg. At a cost of only R1200, you can sponsor the construction of a cartage trolley, and help legitimize a livelihood for a trolley pusher.

Please contact us for further advertising info. Just drop us an email, and we will get back to you asap:

Trolley Works Research Project

on bree street

riding trolleys

Our beautiful research trolleys have finally been deployed and the team have begun the process of land use mapping in Joubert Park and the Fashion District. The objectives of the research project are to develop a comprehensive profile of the economic activities in Joubert Park and the Fashion District.

By mapping the relationship between economic activities and cultural identity, the project aims to bring about awareness to the potential role of migrant controlled business as contributing towards the economic and cultural regeneration of the inner-city of Johannesburg.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Trolley Street Test

Here is a short video clip from the first street test of our research and cartage trolley. I am hugely impressed by the speed and maneuverability of the trolley - Despite having some problems with the wheel bearings during the test.

Picture: Christo Doherty

The trolley was well received by pedestrians and motorists. We were also invited to take the trolley up to the 2nd floor of Joburg Mall, where we enjoyed some Ethiopian Coffee (for real).

Picture: Christo Doherty

Trolley pusher Hansa Monsaka was particularly excited to try out the new trolley. He thought the ride-on functionality was great for getting across town.

I am excited by the video capabilities of the trolley. The camera effectively turns the trolley into a mobile video surveillance unit. This functionality is important as we are now able to monitor and document the urban environment discreetly.

Lookout for our 2nd road test next week, when we take all four of our trolleys on the road. And please don't forget to checkout all of Christo Doherty's beautiful pictures .

Monday, March 9, 2009

Research Trolley Prototype

Research Trolley Prototype

We have just completed our first prototype trolley and are currently rolling out are first four trolleys!! Things are moving along nicely, the team are looking forward to hitting the streets!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Supply and Demand of Supermarket Trolleys

Theft of supermarket trolleys is a highly organised business. The trolleys are supplied by gangs made up of Zimbabwean youth, who utilise hired trucks and vans to transport stolen trolleys from shopping centers to the downtown area where they are sold on the streets.

The trolley pushers are not directly responsible for the theft of trolleys. However, everyone is aware of the pick up points for stolen trolleys in the area. During quiet periods, stolen trolleys are sold for as little as R50, whilst trolleys can sell for as much as R200 during busy periods.

The response from supermarket chain stores has been to setup a special task force for recovering stolen trolleys off the streets. Weekly raids ensure that all the visible trolleys in the area are confiscated. Subsequently, the trolley pushers have devised a system, whereby trolleys are locked to immovable property on the sidewalk. During raids trolleys are also moved off the streets and are parked into the basement spaces of high rise buildings.

Trolley pushers report that it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate with stolen trolleys on the streets, as the police and supermarket chain stores are clamping down on the activity. Most of the interviewed trolley pushers don’t like the hassle associated with pushing stolen supermarket trolleys and are desperate for a viable legal alternative.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Spatial Organisation of Trolley Pushers in Joubert Park

On the morning of the 3rd of February 2009, 106 trolley pushers were counted in the Joubert Park area. Our study shows that 50% of trolley pushers were of Zimbabwean origin, 40% of Mozambican origin, whilst South African trolley pushers made up only 10% of the total number of trolley pushers.

Trolley pusher groups occupy almost every corner of Joubert Park. The groups prefer waiting at known taxi stops, where they are likely to find customers requiring baggage assistance. There are approximately 20 trolley pusher groups operating within a 10 block radius in Joubert Park. Group sizes vary from as little as 2 members to as many as 20 members per group. The groups are formed through informal social agreements where routes of operation are agreed upon. The barriers of access are very low with only R50 required to buy a stolen supermarket trolley. Theoretically, anybody can become a trolley pusher, however the activity is exclusively male dominated.

Trolley Pushers who operate independently, without any affiliation to a group are known as ‘spinners’. ‘Spinners’ tour the city in search of customers and are often accused of stealing people’s luggage. They also cause conflicts with trolley groups as there is severe competition for business. Conflicts amongst larger groups are more common, as every additional member adds to the competition for customers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Latest Trolley Designs

Trolley Perspective

Side Elevation

Research Trolley Rendered

Checkout our latest designs for our research and cartage trolley. In total four custom built trolleys are being developed as part of an active experiment on Johannesburg roads. The trolleys are being designed to ride on, with large pneumatic wheels to ensure all road capability. The design also boasts a unique fold away research station, for conducting surveys and for the storing of information leaflets.

With thanks to Liale Francis and Renzo Rader of Pika Design Studio.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Meet the Team team
Pictured Above: Rob Peers (seated), Keith Busani Khumalo (left), Hansa Monsaka (right)

Keith Busani is a trolley pusher and research assistant. His interests lie in developing a representative trolley pusher association in Johannesburg.

Ismail Farouk holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. His work explores and initiates creative responses to racial, social, political and economic injustice.

Hansa Monsaka is a trolley pusher who has intimate knowledge of police movement patterns in Joubert Park. He is interested in developing a courier business in the downtown area of Johannesburg.

Rob Peers is an undergraduate Psychology and Economics student at the University of Witwatersrand. Peers is interested in informal economics and related pedestrian movement in public space.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

About the project

The project was initiated with the primary aim to provide trolley pushers with a legal trolley alternative to the stolen shopping carts currently being used on the streets. A major problem associated with trolley pushing activity has been victimization by the police. Every time a raid occurs, trolley pushers are fined R300 and their trolleys are confiscated. Lately, raids have been occurring with increasing frequency and trolley pushers are being detained in prison for a seemingly harmless economic activity.

In addition to designing custom built trolleys for the legalization of the activity, the project also seeks to develop trolley pusher led guided tours of the downtown area. The tours are seen as a practical means to sustain the project. They are also seen as a strategy to address the need to walk in the downtown area of Johannesburg. Walking in Johannesburg is strongly linked to class, race, crime, fear and paranoia. The proposed tours attempt to address these challenges, whilst getting people thinking and contributing to a conversation related to the politics of public space in the city.

In total four custom built trolleys are being developed as part of an active experiment on Johannesburg roads. The trolleys are being designed to ride on, with large heavy duty wheels to ensure all road capability. The design also boasts a unique fold away research station, for conducting surveys and for storing information leaflets.

Four trolley pushers from the area have been identified to work as tour guides and as field researchers. The research team is currently conducting interviews and surveys aimed at providing demographic information about the trolley pushers in the area. In addition, they are also carrying out daily mapping exercises concentrating on spatially locating the various informal economic activities in public space.

The project was initiated by Johannesburg based artist Ismail Farouk as part of the Sylt Quelle Cultural Award for Southern Africa 2008. The cross-disciplinary award, launched by the Foundation Kunst:raum Sylt Quelle and the Goethe-Institute, invited proposals from writers, artists, choreographers, musicians, filmmakers and others, in Southern Africa, focusing on practitioners that engage relevant social issues in their work. The first phase of the Trolleyworks project began in December 2008, and is proposed to run until May 2009.

Keith Busani Khumalo: Trolley Pushing in downtown Joburg

By Keith Busani Khumalo.

Unemployment is so high that I thought I need to try something to feed myself and my family. I am here illegally from Zimbabwe, so I hooked up with other guys and started pushing trolleys. The trolleys are stolen from shops like Game, Pick & Pay, Woolworths, Checkers and Spar. We are not responsible for stealing the trolleys, we buy them from guys who come around to sell them.

I feel that we are helping people at the same time they are helping us. So as far as I am concerned, we are very helpful as far as ferrying our customers goods but sometimes we have arguments about money. Sometimes a customer offer to pay only R5 to transport his goods to Park Station and that's quite a long distance. I am not happy with the price but I have no choice but to agree on the price.

Trust plays a big part in our business as sometimes, we lose our customers in the chaos downtown. We need to wait for our customers and take care of their goods. Some people accuse us of stealing their goods, but we are trying to work honestly and are trying to help.

A huge problem we are facing is being arrested by the police, who keep us in jail over the weekend. We lose our trolleys and need to pay a R300 fine. There is also the problem of Saki Sizwe, who comes around from Park Station to take our trolleys away. At Park Station you can hire a trolley for R20 per day. But the trolleys are small and cannot accomodate heavy luggage. We cannot make enough money to pay R20 per day for the trolley rental. Life here is very hard, but it is better than life in Zimbabwe as here I can do something and I am able to find some money for food.