President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied that the national Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga opposes devolving control of Metrorail to the City of Cape Town.

The City sounded the alarm after Chikunga told journalists in May that there are no plans currently in place to do so.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis even set a deadline for the President to establish a task-team on the matter.

That deadline has passed, but in a question session in Parliament on Tuesday, he suggested that the minister never gave a flat-out no to the plan:

“I want to deny that the Minister has repudiated what has been put out. What she had said and stressed is that the time-frames that have been set need to be adhered to as consultation happens” said the President.

Ramaphosa faced several questions relating to the devolution of control over rail.

These included specific references to the fight between the City and national departments over the fate of people living on the railway lines near Langa and Philippi.

Maintaining that Minister Chikunga allegedly merely meant that the process will take time.

Ramaphosa said that consulting with these people was one reason for the deals.

“What the Minister is saying is that we need to complete this whole engagement and consultation process and the timeframes that are set out which are also repeated give effect to that. So the Minister is very clear that we need to go through the various processes that have been set out”.