Cape Town’s equivalent of Gautrain back on the agenda says China’s BYD

By Alec Hogg

It pays to be tapped into the global news stream. Because something that’s kept under wraps in South Africa can often leak out from a global source who, well, doesn’t regard it as that big a secret.

BYD, the Chinese electric vehicle maker whose shareholders include Warren Buffett, has opened its first commercial monorail. Called “Skyrail” by their fans monorails cost a fifth of subways and take one third the time to build.

The Berkshire-invested business told the FT’s Beijing correspondent that 20 cities, mainly in China, plan to build monorails next year. Iloilo in the Philippines has been identified as the first customer outside the Middle Kingdom. But Cape Town is listed alongside New York as the two hot prospects. But with BYD’s confident forecast, until there’s official confirmation from the Mother City officials, Capetonians shouldn’t hold their breath.

Since 2005, the city has mooted monorail as its answer to Gautrain. The suggestion surfaces periodically without any follow through. But this time, as the news emanates from the home of the BRICS leader at the precise time when JZ is visiting, who knows?