My City or Their City? A case study of the Imizamo Yethu taxi industry and the MyCiti bus services in Hout Bay
South Africa has a growing economy with about 19 million of people going to work and looking for work every day (Ahmed 2004). The majority of people in South Africa use public transport in order to get to work. According to Ahmed (2004), 65 % of the people who use public transport, make use of the minibus taxis. The minibus taxis established themselves during late Apartheid as a solution to transporting poor, black people to and from work. Over the years during Apartheid and after, the minibus taxi industry has grown from a few, small scale businesses to a nationwide structured organisation (McCaul 1999). In 2007, the National Department of Transport created the Public Transport Strategy and Action Plan that would look at reorganising the transport system in South Africa. The main idea of restructuring the public transport system was to introduce a scheduled bus system which was reliable. In 2008, the City of Cape Town decided to begin plan and implement a new Bus Rapid Transport system (BRT system). This new transport system would be regulated and scheduled in order to make commuters movements around the city easier. (Ahmed 2004, 2-3) The BRT can be seen through the lens of competitive cities (Huchzemeyer), a notion intimately tied to neo-liberal and high modernist world views. Neoliberalism fosters competition between countries and companies across the world. Countries who want to be competitive and attract foreign direct investment adopt the neoliberal policies in order to make investing, trading and profit making easier and more attractive for businesses, especially international investors. The City of Cape Town follows neoliberal thought in the sense of adopting policies aimed at creating a city that can compete on an international level with other cities (Integrated Development Plan 2012-2017). The Integrated Development Plan (IDP) provides the City of Cape Town with a strategic framework on how to create sustainable development and growth so that the City may grow and develop economically as well as socially. This entails creating a city that is capable of supporting and aiding business expansion and development in all sectors as well as ensuring that Cape Town remains a prime tourist destination in order to attract international and local investment (Integrated Development Plan 2012-2017). In addition to a neo-liberal flavour, competitive cities invoke the high-handedness of modernist planning that Scott (1998) identifies in, 'Seeing like a State'. The theory explains how the state wants to create progress to improve the lives of the people by creating order out of the organic chaos that has emerged from the community/city over time. The outcome is that the State implements policy that eradicates the unique informal design and replaces it with a formal structure which can have a negative impact on the poor. This simplification is also often the reason why many historical social and economic practises are lost and replaces with order and simplicity – loss of unique identity (Scott 1998). These elements of the ideal competitive city are manifested in the BRT idea too. The City of Cape Town is in the process of trying to simplify and re-organise the transport system in the City in order to ensure that Cape Town fits into the mould of a competitive city. This new bus service will in effect eradicate the ‘organic chaos’ of the taxi industry as the taxis are replaced with MyCiti. The City of Cape Town used the process of public participation to consult with the taxi associations and owners. The City used 'invited spaces' (Cornwall 2002), to engage with the affected taxi parties and "sell" the idea of the BRT system. The City did use public participation; however, they only consulted the elites (Taxi owners and associations) in the taxi industry. Once the elites were satisfied that they would receive compensation for the loss of their business, they bought into the BRT system often at the expense of their voiceless employees. In Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, the Hout Bay taxi association and Hout Bay Cape Town associations used invented spaces, namely protests, to engage with the City about MyCiti. These associations believe that the implementation of the BRT system has affected their livelihoods in a negative way and that the City did not consult them about the implementation of the MyCiti bus service. There are also other conflicts that have arisen because of the implementation of the MyCiti bus service which has impacted negatively on the community. The result from the implementation of the BRT system is mixed. On one hand it would seem that the City of Cape Town has turned towards creating a competitive city and away from effects on the parlous lives of the poor. The City in conjunction with the ODA (full trading name), have tried to minimise the impact of the BRT system on the taxi micro-economy. However, those whose business was only partially affected have been left to fend for themselves. The problem, according to the City of Cape Town, is that there are limits to how much compensation they can give. Unfortunately, those left without compensation and loss of business are the victims of a society which favours straight lines compared to organic unique chaos.