Cosatu wants Cape Town public transport system declared a national disaster


The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called on national government to declare the public transport system in Cape Town a national disaster.

Cosatu says the situation has deteriorated to the point where racial tensions have now escalated.

“The situation has manifested in the following ways in the Cape Flats areas, where the majority of commuters reside:

Taxi violence in all areas is out of control with shootings and killings being a daily occurrence. This is in part related to the allocation of routes and the bad management of the taxi system. Delft has been closed down due to the violence and conflict linked to the routes, with commuters being the latest victims. Taxi routes must be taken away from the taxi bosses and allocated to the taxi drivers, so a more equitable management structure is put in place. There is an urgent need for a dedicated police task force to quell the violence and a closure of the ranks until sustainable solutions are found.

The train system makes trains completely unreliable and a danger to people’s lives given the levels of overcrowding. The train service is also unreliable due to the under-investment of Metro Rail into the rail infrastructure. The communication at a variety of levels also misleads commuters in respect of the services that will be provided.

The busses are on a protracted strike due to the intransigence of the buss bosses who have delayed a settlement for a half a percent. Now they are denying the workers the back payment of the agreement reached, due to the greed of the bosses. There are no busses running for longer than 3 weeks and the situation has become desperate for people who depend on busses. The strike is leading to huge additional cost for workers, who have to pay inflated taxi prices, due to the absence of busses or trains.

The road system is the most congested in South Africa due to the mismanagement of the DA, in road infrastructure. So commuters have to be stuck in traffic jams for up to 3 hours on the average trip on the Cape Flats. When protest affects the functionality of the roads, then the conflict between road users and protesters often leads to violence,” a statement issued by Cosatu on Monday said.

Cosatu Provincial Secretary, Tony Ehrenreich called on national government to intervene urgently to address the different aspects of the crisis, which “has now lead to a perfect storm in the transport crisis, facing Cape Town Commuters”.

Ehrenreich added that the government in the Western Cape and institutions tasked with managing transport situations have been “largely absent and completely quiet”.

He called on employers to show their workers “extreme leniency” as they navigate the difficult transport situation.