The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry has taken aim at Mayor Patricia de Lille’s administration, criticising the city for its high electricity tariffs, above-inflation wage increases and the proposed roll-out of the MyCiTi bus service to the Cape Flats.
Addressing business leaders and members of the city’s mayoral committee during the chamber’s annual City Meets Business forum on Tuesday, chamber president Michael Bagraim said bringing down the cost of doing business in Cape Town was essential for future growth.
He said the city relied too much on revenue from its electricity service.
“We understand that electricity sales provide an important revenue stream but this policy comes at a cost,” Bagraim said.
On public transport, Bagraim said the minibus taxi industry provided the only viable, unsubsidised yet profitable transport service in Cape Town.
Bagraim said conditions for an integrated rapid transit system suited the West Coast since distance was relatively short. “A similar service to the Cape Flats would double trip lengths, there would be no dedicated roadway and the population cannot afford economic fares.
“The ideas of a quality MyCiTi bus service to the Cape Flats might be politically attractive but how much will it cost and where will the subsidies come from?”
Brett Herron, the mayco member for transport, said the chamber did not understand the transport needs of commuters from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.
He said the MyCiTi roll-out to Cape Town’s “metro south-east” suburbs by the end of next year was part of the “integrated solution” to the city’s public transport problem.
Bagraim said the shrinking private sector was another concern.
“What makes the situation even worse is that wage increases in the public sector, including the municipalities, have been well above the inflation rate.
In response, deputy mayor Ian Neilson said the city had little control over salary increases.