BRT, Metrorail and the city and country’s priority?

by Nov 13, 2013Amandla Issue 32, Magazine

Dear Amandla!

I have recently moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town to work as an educator. I worked in Soweto before this and was quite looking forward to relocating to a different place. I had heard a lot about Cape Town’s beauty and the pictures testified to that. I had also known that it was a hotbed for the DA and the ANC to squabble over issues. Although I am not really political, I could not help but notice the difference between the treatment of black people in this place than what I am used to in Soweto. There appears to be something of a mental complicity that black people in Cape Town and I am not sure why that is. This realization came strongly to me as I worked in Du Noon community among other teachers and parents there. The level of expectation here, that sense of self that people have, is really low. I feel like I am spoilt or out of line for demanding decent treatment from restaurants or from community services that I consider basic.

It did not strike me until much later that the very design of this city is actually is anti-black and this is well demonstrated by the BRT system here, MyCiti. In comparison to Johannesburg, our BRT system, Rea Vaya, goes through townships and that makes logical sense because those arteries provide the life-line of the city’s economy. They remain clean and efficient, just like the ones in Cape Town, except that the Cape Town ones, where they proudly give you the map of their routes, do not go through townships. They serve areas where people already have cars and in suburbs and yes, largely white. I am not one to get into political debates but I could not help but feel angered here not even from a political viewpoint but from a humane, logical stance where the transportation ought to support the majority of the people, who to my recent knowledge are located in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain townships. I do not know really know to which my anger is directed, whether it is to the city developers and council managers who do not take account of a people-driven development infrastructure – or the black people who seem to be comfortable to be second class citizens in this city!

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