*Day 45: “we have been forgotten”*
Today, Monday 15 July, is the 45th consecutive day that the MyCiTi services to residents of Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelithsa have been stopped.
It is almost 5 years to the day since my team and I launched the MyCiTi N2 Express service in July 2014.
Over the past few years of providing MyCiTi services to Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain, we have encountered occasional operational problems, such as vandalism, occasional sabotage of our buses and strikes.
However, we always did our utmost to ensure services, or to rapidly restore interrupted services, to keep the almost 6,000 commuters using this service daily on the move.
Now, for six weeks, we have heard no plan, and no alternative, for the thousands of workers and learners who depend on this public transport to get to work or school and back.
I find the neglect of our residents by our City leadership shocking and outrageous. The lack of care is astounding and heads should roll.
I know that this service to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain was never part of the current Mayor’s plan for MyCiTi but he and his Mayoral Committee must surely be aware of the massive public transport struggles that communities on the Cape Flats endure.
That time in our country when his former National Party denied access and services to black and coloured neighbourhoods has ended.
The people of Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain have been abandoned by this government.
This morning, I followed up on complaints I have been receiving about the conditions commuters from Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain are having to endure.
At 5.30 this morning I was at Kuyasa, where the service first commenced operating on 5 July 2014, and then went to Site C taxi rank where many of the Khayelitsha commuters now stand in long queues, in the cold and dark, waiting to get a taxi.
In the queues in Khayelitsha, a lady pleaded with me to help reinstate the MyCiTi service. To get to work in the CBD, she used to spend R50 a week using the early off-peak MyCiTi services. Now she is forced to pay R20 for a taxi trip each way; increasing her travel costs by 400% to R200 each week.
Other commuters say their costs have increased more - to R60 per day.
An additional 400 taxi trips to the CBD are required to transport the 6,000 commuters stranded by the cancelled MyCiTi service.
Sadly, none of the many former MyCITi commuters I spoke to in the taxi queues have yet received their promised refunds, adding further to their financial burdens.
One man explained that he tried to instead use the trains - a more affordable option than bus or taxi – but the crowded trains, lack of reliability and long delays make it impossible to get to work and back on time each day.
Many commuters said that they feel like the rest of the city has forgotten them.
When the service was cancelled, I called on MEC Madikizela to assist since it was evident that the current city leadership had failed.
Six weeks later, it is clear that neither the city nor provincial leadership appreciate the importance of this service. They have simply been absent.
Today I will appeal to the National Minister of Transport, Minister Fikile Mbalula, to intervene.
The cost to our economy, to further traffic congestion and most importantly to those commuters who must now endure longer queueing, higher costs and longer time away from their families during the cold, dark mid-winter months is unacceptable and cruel.
Statement issued by Brett Herron, GOOD Member of Western Cape Provincial Parliament, 15 July 2019