Wynberg residents resist MyCiti bus plans

| Ashleigh Furlong
Gershwin Fortune, manager for Integrated Rapid Transit System Planning & Modelling at City of Cape Town, addressing residents at a public open day. Picture by Ashleigh Furlong.

Residents in Wynberg and Plumstead were still up in arms on Wednesday over the new planned MyCiti bus route. They claim it has not involved true public participation. If implemented as currently proposed, many families will have to be evicted and the social character of Wynberg will be changed.

Residents have been fighting against the proposed design since last year September when 26 tenants living in City properties along South Road received notices terminating their lease agreements by 30 January. They refused to vacate their homes. Following an urgent court application by South Road families in April, the City withdrew the eviction notices, which was a small victory for the South Road Families’ Association (SRFA), an NPO that was formed by South Road residents.

But it appears that residents could still be evicted if the proposed design is implemented as it stands.

At the public open day in Wynberg on Wednesday a resident asked whether South Road was a “done deal”. Dave Hugo, who is director of infrastructure for the City’s Transport for Cape Town, was seen as reluctant to answer the question.

“South Road as a scheme has been approved. But that can be overturned,” said Hugo amid murmurs from the audience.

The conceptual design also proposes a “couplet” that will make travelling more convenient for passengers but will require buildings of historical value to be demolished.

“Somebody has to weigh up how many people will benefit from the couplet, compared to messing up a complete suburb with a long heritage,” said Joan van Zyl.

The couplet will also require the City to purchase private and commercial property.

In a statement released by the City following their withdrawal of the eviction notices they claimed that they did not want to be involved in litigation with residents until all alternatives had been exhausted.

“We urge the South Road Families Association to make use of the public participation process to air their views, and to provide their input in writing on the possibility of implementing the proposed MyCiTi trunk route in the Wynberg area without making use of the South Road scheme,” said the City.

Laurie Peregrino, who is a member of SRFA, believes that the public participation open days are not able to address all the residents’ concerns. “The issues are not just construction. There is a whole host of different disciplines that should be involved,” he said.

Local resident Odette Herbert asked, “Why are there only technical people here? Where are the housing people, the policing people?”

Clive Muller, who lives in South Road, said that he is not against the MyCiti, rather he feels that the City is not allowing for real public participation. “We are being dictated to,” he said.

Peregrino said that the SRFA has come up with other alternatives for the City to consider, but that these alternatives are being pushed away without the City giving reasons or costing them. “They just say that it is not workable,” he said.

Brett Herron, who is mayoral committee member of transport for Cape Town said that this is not the case. “Officials from Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, have indeed considered the alternatives that are being proposed by the residents from South Road. During this public participation process, officials from TCT will make available the assessments of the alternative routes proposed by the South Road Families Association,” he said.

The final route will only be known once the public participation process has been completed. Herron said that the results will be presented to the City of Cape Town’s Council later this year for a final decision. The actual launch of the MyCiti route will be in 2020 or 2021.

SRFA is connecting with other communities also facing possible eviction, such as the De Waal Drive flats residents.

“Cape Town is going to be pretty exclusive one day. It will be a city for the rich only,” Peregrino said.

The public open days concerning the MyCiti route in Wynberg and Plumstead ended on Wednesday, but all concerned parties may still submit comment until 13 July.

Residents look over the conceptual designs for the MyCiti bus route at the Wednesday public open day at Church-on-Main in Wynberg. Picture by Ashleigh Furlong.

TOPICS:  Housing Transport

Next:  Langa body building champ to defend his title

Previous:  When protesters have to teach police what the law says

© 2016 GroundUp. Creative Commons License
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.