DA mayoral candidate for Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis at his briefing with DA Western Cape spokesperson on Transport Ricardo Mackenzie (far right) and Mayco member for transport Rob Quintas (beside Hill-Lewis)
DA mayoral candidate for Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis at his briefing with DA Western Cape spokesperson on Transport Ricardo Mackenzie (far right) and Mayco member for transport Rob Quintas (beside Hill-Lewis)

Good's Brett Herron, union say they’ve heard the plan by DA candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis for City to run Cape trains before

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Oct 15, 2021

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Cape Town - DA mayoral candidate for Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, has committed a future municipal administration under his leadership to fighting for control of Metrorail in the City.

However his rival for the mayor’s job, Good party MPL Brett Herron thinks the plan sounds familiar while the United National Transport Union also think they have heard it all before.

Speaking at a campaign briefing, Hill-Lewis said that the Constitution says municipal public transport is an area of local government competence and that the DA would test the boundaries of the Constitution on the matter.

“That doesn't mean that we’ll immediately go straight to the courts, but we want to engage with the government on this.

“We actually believe that if you listen to their recent statements they are actually closer to our position than they might be publicly prepared to say.

“The Constitution says we actually have a responsibility for metropolitan public transport. In the past, just by tradition that has only referred to buses while Metrorail has always run trains across the country. But if they can’t do that, we think that there’s a case to be made that we should do it.”

Herron, who is also a former Mayco member for transport, accused Hill-Lewis of regurgitating what he (Herron) presented to City in October 2017.

“I said then that for the City to fix passenger rail we will have to take over all of the assets required to provide the service, from the stations and the land the assets are located on, to the tracks, signalling system, and the existing and new rolling stock to be allocated to Cape Town through the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) recapitalisation programme.

“It was not a proposal to take over the operations of Metrorail, but rather an extension of the City’s role as a contracting authority, which is the City’s role in the operations of the MyCiTi bus system,” said Herron.

United National Transport Union (Untu) spokesperson Sonja Carsten said it would not make any difference if the DA ran the trains and that all political parties like to use talk of improving commuter rail like a carrot for the voters but nothing ever materialises.

“Over the past few months Prasa, under its new leadership, has done a lot to adhere to promises that have been made specifically with regard to the Central Line, which they hope to open soon.

“Also nobody can do anything about the vandalism and theft that we currently experience throughout our railway infrastructure. If the police are not playing their part, then any plans to upgrade railway infrastructure will remain a pie in the sky,” said Carstens.

Western Cape ANC elections head Nomi Nkondlo said: “The same DA-led administration and its transport services have poorly managed the issuance of permits and the allocation or declaration of certain taxi routes and operation zones.

“So until, they demonstrate capability in the areas of public transport within their current powers and functions, they must shut up.”

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