A war of words has erupted between Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich and City of Cape Town Mayco member for Transport, Councillor Brett Heron after the trade union federation withdrew a complaint against the city council at the Equality Court. The union has charged that the roll out of the MyCiTi bus services to the Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha communities has been “unequal and discriminatory”.
Cosatu launched its complaint in June 2014, accusing the City of providing inferior services to the communities, compared to those offered in more affluent areas like Blouberg and Milnerton. This has led to a nine month legal wrangle between the two parties.
Speaking to VOC Breakfast Beat on Friday, Ehrenreich said the organization had held discussions with the city prior to the court bid, which was ultimately motivated by the City’s apparent refusal to address their concerns.
“When the Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha services were put in place, there were no bus stops completed by the time the system started. At that moment there was overcrowding, not the same frequency of service, and poor people were excluded because they didn’t have a ticketing arrangement that would allow them to buy a single day ticket when going to work,” he said.
According to Ehrenreich, this was in stark contrast to the top of the range facilities offered to residents in a community like Milnerton, where the frequency of busses and other facilities were far superior.
“There can be no dispute that there is a huge difference in the level, frequency and quality of service between Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha, and that which exists in Milnerton,” he said, noting landscaping and security as just two others areas of concern.
Many of the issues held by Cosatu have, or are currently in the works to be addressed by the City. This is part of the reason why the complaint has been withdrawn.
But Councilllor Herron sought to refute Ehrenreich’s claims of inequality, stressing that the interest of the City had always been to roll out top-quality services to Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain.
“That service (the N2 Express) is operating at the same standard as anywhere else in the City. Cosatu lodged this complaint in June last year, and actually lodged it four or five days before the service even started operating,” he suggested.
“The complaint was an outright lie, which is why he had to withdraw it yesterday. Otherwise Cosatu would have faced a cost order against them, because the court would have no doubt rejected their claim.”
With relation to the single ticket issue, Herron said it had always been in the City’s plans to introduce the system, and that Ehrenreich, sitting in council as part of the ANC caucus, should have been aware of this prior to the services launch.
“When he lodged the complaint and complained about stations and stops not being completed, both of the stops had already been completed and were on track to be completed,” further accusing Ehrenreich of pointing out non-existent faults, potentially for political purposes.
Approximately R371 000 of tax payers money was reportedly used by the City of Cape Town over the course of the 9 month court case. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)