Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is expected to launch a dispute over passenger rail devolution and service standards.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the City is briefing lawyers to launch an intergovernmental dispute in just less than a week. The City said this a day after President Cyril Ramaphosa was in Parliament for a Q&A session.
“The City has been unable to secure a joint devolution working committee with the national government. These actions are in direct contradiction to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claims during questions in Parliament on September 5 that broad consultations have been held on the national government’s forthcoming Rail Devolution Strategy.
“We have been unable to secure a working committee on devolution despite President Ramaphosa previously committing to respond to our requests. We have made this simple request to both previous and current transport ministers, and most recently to the president on June 16, but to no avail.
“In Parliament, the president says ‘viva la co-operation’, but our experience has been the exact opposite. We are, in fact, taken aback by the president’s claims of broad consultations taking place towards a national devolution strategy.
“As a leading city preparing to take over passenger rail, we are completely in the dark about these alleged consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, including transport authorities, of which we are one.”
Hill-Lewis explained that Prasa has further refused to sign a service level agreement on targets to improve rail services, which will lay the foundation for devolution and is a legal requirement under the National Land Transport Act.
“Without these critical measures, we fear that devolving passenger rail is still many years away, which is unacceptable to us and the million commuters we are fighting for.”
The mayor said that for these reasons they are briefing their lawyers to launch an intergovernmental dispute mediation process.
“Under section 42 of the Intergovernmental Framework Relations Act, a mediation committee will need to be promptly convened to set the terms of the dispute.
“The City’s ongoing Rail Feasibility Study, which aims to chart the way to devolution, has so far found that functional rail will sustain over 51 000 jobs and add R11 billion to the local economy each year.
“While the Transport Director-General recently confirmed an intention to gazette the Devolution Strategy within 2023, the president yesterday stated this would instead be ‘by 2024’.”
Prasa did not respond to requests for comment.