#227 Classism chasm: the Gautrain and Metrorail on CNBC Africa

Words like “class” and “capital” have done some rounds in the popular economic discourse— but these are technically complex and mathematically inclined words packaged in politics.

Used in the transport sector without proper training, they are easily appropriated for inputs in arguments about justice, equity and redistribution. These too are empirically dynamic areas of research and require a technical competence that enable a more nuanced conversation.

All these terms are useful in the political realm to describe and campaign for an ideological position, strung together through crafty slogans, and debate. However, it’s the empirically founded nature of these words that become a barrier to practice. An ideal is one thing, it maybe described in a statutory document as a law, but ensuring justice, enabling fair distribution of wealth, access and mobility all require actual measurements.

How much per passenger, how many trains per hour, how many stations per x kilometers and how many households in a specific radius of the taxi rank. These are not just questions of passion, but they need a degree of estimation in order to have the right budget allocated for the projects, draft appropriate agreements and actually get buy-in.

The recent years have seen such a level of detail fall frail into the realm of ideological debate in the transport economic realm. Whereas, the empirical efforts would produce a clear picture of the measurable realities and the interventions we need. Instead, we seem to be caught in a battle to establish “classism” instead of estimating the extent of government failure through rent seeking — or market failure in its purest form. This requires proper training.

Thank you for reading, and enjoy the view.

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