17 April 2019

South Africa: The DA's Plan to Fix Railways Stands On Firm Footing

opinion

Given the Western Cape's excellent track record of running the most honest and effective government in South Africa, it is clearly also rational to allow this well-run province to fix its poorly-run railways.

Daily Maverick recently published a piece entitled Parties make election promises on fixing the rail system, but the detail is threadbare. The article sets out to analyse different parties' policy platforms on repairing our country's broken railway service. Unfortunately, it presents a misleading picture of the DA's undertaking to assume control of the passenger rail service in the Western Cape. The article's primary shortcoming is that it concludes that: "Devolving the rail service from a national to a provincial mandate would require a constitutional amendment."

This claim is simply incorrect. Public transport is in fact already listed as a concurrent national and provincial function in the Constitution, which means that provinces are legally entitled to play a much bigger role in facilitating public transport - including passenger rail - than has been the case until now.

Flowing from that constitutional provision, the 2009 National Land Transport Act introduces significant flexibility in assigning authority over transport services between different spheres of government. Chapter 2 of the Act also...

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