Cape Town’s failing commuter rail transport system and increased traffic congestion has left the City on the verge of crisis, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
This is clear from a survey of Chamber members which found that about 85% of respondents said the situation had demotivated staff and reduced productivity while 90% said that traffic congestion had increased transport costs in terms of fuel consumed and time lost.
Ms Janine Myburgh, president of the Chamber, said the survey also revealed growing anger at the under performance of Metrorail.
“What makes this so desperately sad is that Cape Town has the best network of railway lines of any city in the country but the service on these lines seems to be getting worse every day. This lies at the heart of the coming crises,” she said.
The survey revealed that 27.4% of respondents said they now had to deal with an absentee rate that had increased by 10% or more while 50% said their absentee rate had been increased by between 1% and 10%. Nearly 40% said they were being forced to consider penalties for persistent late arrivals. Even more disturbing is that 37% of respondents said the problem could be big enough to have industrial relations ramifications.
Nearly 35% said that they had assisted workers by providing some kind of transport or assistance with taxi fees and 47.6% said they had introduced flexi time to ease commuting problems while 27% said that working from home was a viable option for some staff.
Employers said their workers were getting a raw deal from Metrorail. “They pay for a monthly ticket but when the service isn’t there or trains are too late they have to find money to pay for taxi or bus fares. There are no refunds.”
To make matters worse some employers alleged the mini-bus taxis increase their fees when trains are not available.
The second half of the problem is getting g home at night, especially in winter. “Many of our staff live in crime-ridden areas and they fear for their lives every day when they return home in darkness,” one employer said.
Another employer said “There really is no order on trains. People travel Metroplus with no tickets while people paying a load of money for Metroplus are shoved around. You fear for your safety.”
The situation on the trains forces more people to use cars making traffic congestion even worse.
“This is a disaster for my business. My clients need their deliveries and need to run their businesses. My staff are just as frustrated as I am and I am beyond frustrated because of the extremely poor service from ‘Metro Fail’. There has to be a better way. There has to be more professional service. There has to be a more customer focused service.”
One employer warned: “The Metrorail system is going to impact on business and it will affect decision making. That will result in businesses moving away from the Metro areas.”