Cape Town – The Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) has appointed its former chairperson Michael Benu to lead a task team to look into the state of public transport in Khayelitsha.
Residents of the area have been without trains for at least 35 days, and without MyCiTi buses for more than six months.
KDF chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said the task team would examine, among other things, the train services to the area; the impact on commuters of the impasse between the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and the City over the MyCiTi bus service; as well as issues of general safety on public transportation in the area.
“The task team’s mandate is to mobilise the community to fight and maintain reliable public transportation services in the area.
“They will engage with all three tiers of government and the other affected stakeholders,” he said.
Tyhido said the team had informed Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela as well as Codeta of its intentions.
“We believe that the current state of public transportation in Khayelitsha is a devastating blow to the economy of the township and an attack on the livelihoods of the poorest of poor.”
He said it was for that reason that the KDF had decided to dedicate a team of seasoned community activists to assess, advise and deal with the current state of public transportation in Khayelitsha.
It is still not clear when train services on the central line between Cape Town and Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain will resume, after these were suspended earlier this year.
According to Metrorail, the trains were currently not running to one of the most populous areas of the Cape Town metropolitan area “due to the theft of more than 730m of overhead catenary wire in the Bonteheuwel-Nyanga area”.
A spokesperson for the #UniteBehind coalition movement, Matthew Hirsch, said that when the trains were not running, commuters were obliged to pay for alternative transport such as minibus taxis and buses.
Fares for these could be three to five times more expensive than train tickets.
“The MyCiTi service for these areas is currently suspended, and has been for over six months,” he said.
Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said her organisation noted the important role that all operators played in the public transport space.
“We remain hopeful that the N2 Express (MyCiTi) will be reinstated and that Metrorail will be able to once again offer a full service.”
Dyke-Beyer said Gabs operated about 600 daily trips between the city and Khayelitsha/Mitchells Plain.