When I took up the my current position of Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, I knew that I had no more important task than to join with all of you in bringing about a truly integrated public transport system, not only for the city, but also for the region, in which live 80% of our people and generates more than three quarters of our gross provincial product.
I knew it to be more important than cutting our road deaths by 50%, than unleashing our fixed assets to provide schools and hospitals, than cutting our road and built maintenance backlogs, than bringing about a peaceful and prosperous taxi industry.
All of these things we can do, and are doing, but nothing else can bridge the Apartheid barriers of this city faster and better than integrated public transport, nor is there any other undertaking that can create more jobs, ease the life of the poorest of the poor and allow them to access the natural glories of this region.
So it is my very great privilege to be here today with you, representing my Premier and my department, as we all commit to doing what must be done, knowing how small the base that we start with is, how limited the funds, how difficult the journey, but knowing it must and will be done and has to be done in our time.
Knowing also that from today there can be no turning back.
What we all represent here today is an alliance of the willing, an alliance from all three spheres of government, from different political parties, made up of different interests and with many different ideas of how the journey should unfold – but all agreed on the ultimate end of an affordable, safe, scheduled and comprehensive integrated public transport system.
All agreed that there should be one network - one timetable, one ticket, one corporate design, one marketing systems and communication platform and one public transport police force.
That is all we have to do, and when it is done we will have transformed the city and the region as no other force could do.
In all of my daily dealings with the city, with MetroRail, with GABS, with SANTACO, I am confirmed in my view that we can succeed.
After three years of court cases, strikes, vandalism, mayhem and even murder, I am not under any illusions of how difficult the journey will be.
But in so many respects, we are almost there, and in so many others, we are on our way.
Forgive me if I single out one modality. Under the leadership of CEO Mofi and Regional Manager Swartz, Metrorail is coming back from the brink of disaster. Punctuality is improving, discipline is being restored, ticket sales are climbing significantly and a host of cooperative ventures are being entered into - some of them being formalised today.
Where there were 85 train sets – now there are 100.
Many of our commuter routes are over Transnet lines, and we have experienced problems with how these lines are managed. It is now also time for Transnet to come to the public transport party.
It is the city that must lead, and it is doing just that. The province sets the broad picture through the Provincial Land Transport Framework, and our task is to monitor, to encourage and to give all possible help that we can.
Our task is to ensure that we all move forward in broad and committed understanding with each other. Our mission is to ensure that we recognise what we have and begin and make it better.
We must ensure that we are thrifty in our offerings, knowing that if we seek extravagance rather than practicality, we will end with nothing.
Our public transport must serve the people, and particularly the poorest of the poor.
It must be functional above all else and there can be no room for foolishness about modalities or ideologies.
We must learn to manage as an alliance, combining purpose with consideration and refining patience with each other to an art form. We must recognise the rights in law and custom of every member of the transport family, and we must remember that we need more transport, not less.
We must do what no city like ours has ever done before and we will.
And so, Madame Mayor, Councillor Herron and Melissa Whitehead, Minister Martins - the province and the 3 million commuters say - Bon voyage - God bless our city’s public transport and all who travel in her.