The Battle for Rail Devolution in Cape Town: Seeking Transparency and Efficiency

2 mins read
rail devolution passenger rail agency of south africa (prasa)

Cape Town’s Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis, is urging President Cyril Ramaphosa to clarify the National Government’s stance on the devolution of passenger rail services to capable metros. The call comes amid contradictory statements from Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, who suggests that current plans don’t involve devolving rail operations to the City of Cape Town. This contradicts the Cabinet policy decision to devolve rail, which raises questions about the National Government’s commitment to the issue.

Contradictions in National Rail Policy

The debate surrounding rail devolution in Cape Town centers on the White Paper on National Rail Policy, which the Cabinet adopted in May 2022. The policy document commits to devolving rail to capable metros and promises a Rail Devolution Strategy in 2023. However, remarks from Minister Chikunga suggest a possible U-turn on this commitment, causing confusion and frustration for Cape Town’s local government and its citizens, who need an efficient rail system to support economic growth and improve their quality of life.

The Importance of a Thriving Rail System

Mayor Hill-Lewis stresses the importance of an affordable, safe, and reliable train service for millions of Cape Town’s commuters. He also highlights the potential economic benefits a thriving rail system could generate, with estimates indicating that lower-income households could save up to R932 million per year with an efficient rail service in operation. Moreover, a well-functioning rail system could support over 51,000 jobs and contribute R11 billion to the local economy annually.

The Decline of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has been experiencing a decline in recent years, with corrupt deals and mismanagement leading to significant losses for the agency. This has resulted in a decrease in passengers transported over the past decade, leaving lower-income households struggling without access to an affordable and efficient mode of transportation, further exacerbating economic disparities and hindering growth.

The City of Cape Town’s Response

The City of Cape Town is conducting a detailed Rail Feasibility Study as part of its efforts to lay the groundwork for devolving passenger rail services. Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has expressed support for this study in correspondence with Mayor Hill-Lewis. The City is inviting PRASA and the National Government to collaborate on finalizing this process and reestablishing a viable passenger rail service in Cape Town, for the benefit of its residents and the broader economy.

The Debate Continues

Although outgoing Transport Minister Mbalula previously claimed that no directive had been given to begin rail devolution, it has been reported that a draft Devolution Strategy is being prepared for submission to the Minister by 2024. However, prominent ANC figures, such as Mmamoloko Kubayi, policy head for Economic Transformation, have stated that devolving rail is off the table for the ANC. They cite concerns about strategic infrastructure and the importance of rail as an economic backbone, implying that the National Government may not be fully committed to devolving rail services as previously suggested.

The Fight for a Functional Rail System

Mayor Hill-Lewis remains committed to fighting for a functional rail system, calling it the “lifeblood of a growing economy.” With mixed messages coming from the National Government, the push for clarity and cooperation in devolving rail services to capable metros continues unabated. It is clear that a transparent and efficient rail system is of utmost importance to Cape Town’s residents and economic growth, but only time will tell whether the National Government’s commitment to devolution will hold true.

A Russian-Spanish journalist and Cape Town native, channels his lifelong passion for South Africa into captivating stories for his local blog. With a diverse background and 50 years of rich experiences, Serjio's unique voice resonates with readers seeking to explore Cape Town's vibrant culture. His love for the city shines through in every piece, making Serjio the go-to source for the latest in South African adventures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

South Africa’s Transport Sector: Progressing Towards a Brighter Future

Next Story

A Holistic Approach to Promoting Positive Behavior in Western Cape Schools

Latest from Blog

Upcoming Maintenance Set to Improve Water Supply Infrastructure in the City

The Water and Sanitation Directorate of the City of Cape Town has announced essential maintenance works to improve water supply infrastructure. The scheduled maintenance will involve pipe and valve installations, repairs, and replacements, which will enhance local residents’ water supply services. Despite possible disruptions, the directorate assures the public that the planned upgrades’ longterm benefits will outweigh any temporary inconvenience.

Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation Investment Plan

Cape Town, a bustling coastal city in South Africa, is committed to investing R4.3 billion in water and sanitation infrastructure in the 2023/2024 financial year. This significant initiative showcases the Water and Sanitation Directorate’s dedication to providing access to highquality water and ensuring that communities do not suffer from sewer overflows. The city’s investment plan also strives to provide adequate sanitation in informal settlements, promoting a healthier environment for all residents.

Kaizer Chiefs Rumored to Be Eyeing New Addition to Technical Team

South African soccer team Kaizer Chiefs is reportedly considering adding new talent to its technical team. The team’s management is said to be closely observing the situation of Brandon Truter, the current coach of Sekhukhune United, with the possibility of an eventual move to Naturena.

Tackling Racial Disparities in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Endometriosis in Black Women

Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting around one in ten individuals assigned female at birth. This condition causes tissue similar to the uterine lining to grow in other parts of the body, leading to severe pelvic pain, painful periods, pain during sex, infertility, and fatigue. Despite this, those suffering from endometriosis wait eight to 12 years for a diagnosis on average. The diagnosis and treatment of black women with endometriosis, however, are even more challenging.

Pitso Mosimane’s Unpaid Wages and Ambiguous Future at Al Ahli

Recent reports reveal that Pitso Mosimane, a prominent football coach, and his technical team at Al Ahli have not been paid their salaries and bonuses for several months. This issue has raised concerns about Mosimane’s future at Al Ahli, with rumors circulating about his possible departure from the Saudi club.