There has been reaction from all spheres of government around the City of Cape Town’s desire to take over the passenger rail service in the Mothercity.
Cape Town City bosses are currently in the process of putting together a dream team of rail experts to help them take over the commuter train service in the metro. The City’s plan to take over the rail service is nothing new, and was first mooted by former Transport Head, Brett Herron, in 2017. The tender process for professional services to assist the City closed at the end of the February – and the shortlist of candidates is now under scrutiny. Once appointed, the team will have to develop a solid business plan which will enable the City to incrementally take control of the urban rail function from PRASA.
Mayco member for Transport and Urban Development, Felicity Purchase, says they want to restore commuters’ faith in the passenger rail system.
In his immediate reaction to the City’s news, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande called the City of Cape Town opportunistic and dishonest. Nzimande says the commuter rail service is a government competency and that the City’s plans are out of line. His spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi, says government is committed to improving the rail service all over the country … including Cape Town.
Transport M-E-C Donald Grant, has come out in support of the City of Cape Town’s plans to take over the train service. Grant says the functions of the rail services should be devolved to the metro, the way it’s done in other countries. Grant suggests that a rail service functioning under the City of Cape Town’s watch would work better for commuters.
But, Metrorail’s regional manager, Richard Walker, has implied that the City might be biting off more than it can chew pursuing this project. He says it would be better served focusing on the efficient running and administration of the MyCiti bus service.