Independent Online

Thursday, December 7, 2023

View 0 recent articles pushed to you.Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Rail devolution a hot topic at mobility summit

Published Oct 4, 2023


Prasa says it has proven to be capable and competent to run the country’s rail services, and has made significant strides over the last 18 months.

This as devolution continues to be a hot topic, with experts saying it’s not about who runs the rail system but about competency, ethics and skills.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis remains steadfast that the national government has failed to deliver a reliable service and needs to hand over the work to capable metros.

Speaking at the Urban Mobility Summit on Tuesday on reforming the public transport, he said the City was in the process of lodging an intergovernmental dispute on passenger rail devolution and service standards.

This year's summit held under the theme “Building resilience and driving transport reform” is under way at the DHL Stadium.

“We have received feedback on service level agreement with Prasa but no further inputs on devolution.

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 in September that broad consultations have been held on the national government’s forthcoming Rail Devolution Strategy.

“We will start now with a dispute mechanism and if there is still no answers or corporation then the legal route will be our last resort.

This is because you have to prove to the courts you tried every other possible avenue at the moment. We do feel like we have tried everything and there is just zero engagement or consultations,” said Hill-Lewis.

He said staff and rail experts have already been hired.

Prasa Group CEO Hishaam Emeran said: “Prasa has made considerable progress in the last eighteen months in terms of the turnaround (of the) passenger rail system and not only in Cape Town but across the country.

"We have revived a number of corridors, last year brought back 13 and have a total of 24 that are operational. Our aim is to have the Strand line running by the end of this year.

“While reform and devolution topics are being discussed, what is critical for me is the recovering and building because it is the poor suffering.

“We have demonstrated in the past months that we can do the job, run the rail system. We are rolling out an extensive capital programme. Running a railway is complex and we are turning the tide including stability in management and having skilled people,” he said.

Dr Iraj Abedian, founder and chief executive of Pan-African Investment and Research Services said the country needed entities run with skills, experience with a culture of competency and ethics.

Professor Jaap de Visser, director of the Dullah Omar Institute at UWC said the Constitution permits the devolution of passenger rail and provides the mechanisms for it.

“Section 156(4) of the Constitution could be invoked to argue that the national government must assign. However, this provision is ambiguous, uncharted territory and difficult to enforce. If devolution of rail is pursued, it would be much preferred if it is based on negotiation between the three spheres of government,” he said.

Cape Times