The City of Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis told Polity on Friday that the recent taxi strike, which has claimed the lives of five people, including a British doctor, has been damaging to the City of Cape Town’s tourism as 350 000 people in the City work in tourism and hospitality.
In an exclusive interview, he discussed the recent violent taxi strike that caused chaos and also affected learners. He revealed that several thousand tourists cancelled their trips, which is a devastating cost to tourism employees and other jobs.
The recent strike saw a few countries including US, Canada and the UK issuing travel alerts to its citizens who are planning to visit the Mother City.
The City of Cape Town met with South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) representatives, and it was decided that among the agreements in place is a 36-hour strike notice and an escalation mechanism whereby if the taxi task team reaches a deadlock, the matter would be escalated to Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and Hill-Lewis.
The Mayor stressed that violence must never be used as a tool of bargaining as the agreement is contingent on no further violence.
Although the Mayor said it would take some time for the economy and society to recover, he is hopeful for a successful recovery.
The Mayor gave assurances that the City of Cape Town has succeeded in building a safety mechanism which will make it harder for a similar strike to happen again in future.
He said Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga should have backed up the City in defending her own legislation, the National Land Transport Act, which empowers tougher action to protect road users.
The mayor claimed that the Minister has not being seeing eye to eye with the City.
“We should never ever have a repetitions of what we saw last week Thursday when thousands of people had to walk home along the highways, because the strike was called off with immediate effect in the middle of the day with no warning, a real affront to human dignity,” said Hill-Lewis.
The Mayor added that the strike has been most unfortunate and that the cost of the violence should be directed to the taxi body Santaco.
When asked about the City’s all-time infrastructure spending record, where the City spent R6.9-billion on infrastructure in the 2022/23 financial year, Hill-Lewis said the City has plans to accelerate infrastructure spending dramatically while preparing for future spending.
He told Polity that there is a very large number of people who have moved to the City including those who are living in neighbourhoods that were not designed for that number as density is growing.
He said the sewerage infrastructure is important for the dignity of residents, particularly those living in townships and in informal areas.
“We really want to improve sanitation infrastructure, and this is all about preparation for Cape Town’s future success. We have broken this record and we are just getting started,” he explained.
The recent successes are the City’s emphasis on building capacity in the administration, particularly in project management.
The City has hired engineers, project managers and skilled people to make sure its plans are implemented.
Another exciting initiative is the rental units that the City plans to build for the people of Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, which he said has the potential of unlocking tens of thousands of new houses as it allows private capital.