According to the headline “40 days a year spent in traffic” 5th November, the City of Cape Town is intending to spend R750 million to alleviate traffic congestion.
While I support the city’s admirable intentions, in reality, no matter how much money is spend on easing congestion it will not be enough and only creates more problems. More roads equal more cars.
So what is the solution? What is required is that we examine and be brutally honest about the difficult issues instead of throwing large sums of ratepayer’s money at problems that require deep analysis.
Example, Metrorail has been a problem for years because of ineptitude. Instead of resolving this with national government we are forced to work around the inability by spending billions in rates money.
There are also thousands of commuters into the CBD who can be accommodated elsewhere.
Example, in the city there are many schools which cater primarily for kids travelling from very distant communities. This adds immensely to congestion and road accident fatality rate as was evident from media reports when two kids were badly injured trying to cross Buitengracht Street near Bo-kaap.
That parents have more regard for schools outside of their community requires discussion as it suggests that taxpayers are wasting money on educational facilities that have limited outcomes.
Before issues of Apartheid and racial spacial planning are cited, I suggest that suitable land like the massive site near the Athlone power station be used. At such sites an extensive educational facility could accommodate primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. The site has an existing train network, is located on the N2 and has major arterial routes nearby.
By replicating if required and improving the existing infrastructure on relocated sites, state department could sell the educational facilities sited in the CBD for billions of Rands. This would spur economic prospect as developers could create massive opportunity on locations that are greatly underutilized.
Critics may contend that some school sites contain history. The questions are how we conserve the respect required but also move beyond the material base of history. Alternatively, do we allow history to define what the future holds as all of history need not be a site of struggle? Thus for the sake of material progress for the vast majority, deep introspection but practical material planning is required.
With the sustained struggle for free education and as the violent demand for basic services from the poor increases, do we as a society have the luxury to ignore the obvious but painful truth.
By relocating one school from the CBD about 500 commuters are removed from traffic every week. Imagine how many train carriages, taxis and buses would be free for commuters? How much petrol and repair cost will be saved. Less congestion means less wastage, less fumes, better air quality and less rates spent on maintaining road infrastructure and more money for the MyCiti bus program.
What is vital are thinking visionary leaders and generations will thank us for our foresight.
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress