Cape Town doesn't have skills in place to manage commuter rail – Cape Chamber

Janine Myburgh says City had no option but to step in but she would also like to see partnership with private sector

City Council’s offer to accept responsibility for Cape Town’s Commuter rail service 

30 October 2017

The City Council’s offer to accept responsibility for Cape Town’s Commuter rail service is to be welcomed but it is a huge challenge and the City does not yet have the skills in place to manage the system.

“It has been clear for some time that Metrorail is not winning and the service is declining, so the City had no option but to step in,” said Ms Janine Myburgh, President of the Chamber.

She said the City had wisely decided that any takeover, if approved at national level, would have to take place in stages.

“The first stage should be to stop the vandalism and the copper theft and this is something the City is well equipped to do. Its Copperheads anti-metal theft unit has performed well and has a good understanding of the problem. I see no reason why the Metro Police, working with the Copperheads, cannot arrest the ongoing destruction of trainset, the signals system and other infrastructure.”

Ms Myburgh said it was obvious to any observer that the trains were not well looked after or properly guarded at night and at weekends. “The proof is in the ugly graffiti that defaces the coaches. This vandalism can only be done in daylight or under lights so it should be easy to spot the culprits. The graffiti advertises to the copper thieves that the trainsets are easy targets.”

She said this was the starting point. “It was known as the broken window theory and it had been proved over and over again. Examples were the clean-up of New York under Mayor Rudy Giuliani and it had been one of the first things the City Improvement District did when it successfully tackled the crime and grime problem in the CBD.”

This would make a visible difference and it would be the first step in winning back public support for the service.

Ms Myburgh said she would also like to see some kind of partnership with the private sector. “We need to get people with knowledge, skills and resources involved in a partnership to rebuild the service and grow it into the kind of public transport system Cape Town deserves”

Issued by Dean Le Grange, Media and Digital Co-ordinator, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 30 October 2017