In response to Metrorail’s annual price hike, which is scheduled to be implemented on July 1, 2016, commuters have launched the Public Transport Voice campaign in support of frustrated community members who continue to be impoverished in light of inflated transport costs.
Public Transport Voice, which was launched on Monday May 9, 2016, at Nokqubela Train Station in Khayelitsha, is a community-based organization that advocates for the right to quality and equality within South Africa’s public transport sector. Through this campaign, the organizers endeavour to empower the poor and working class communities in order that they may enjoy equal opportunities.
Media and communication officer for Public Transport Voice, Dalton Ndongeni, explained that the organization is working to conscientize people about Metrorail’s fare increase and to encourage community members to take ownership of the situation.
“Metrorail, through price hikes, is ripping off the poor people,” Ndongeni said.
In recent weeks, Metrorail has experienced vandalism to at least 16 carriages, which is believed to have been the result of arson attacks. The continued attacks have greatly impacted the service, causing delays of up to two hours.
Currently 42 carriages, equalling about four full train sets, are out of commission, with damages amounting to over R70 million.
Ndongeni said that Metrorail is citing the recent vandalism as part of the reason for the price inflation.
He explained that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has a safety net that is meant for the maintenance of infrastructure and that the company should, therefore, not hold commuters responsible for the cost of damages to infrastructure.
In an attempt to attract the attention of both Prasa and the government, the organization is in the process of circulating a petition that it will present to Parliament and Prasa.
Ndongeni further noted that Public Transport Voice intends to hold the minister of transport accountable for the price hikes and the subsequent affect that it has had on those who are already impoverished.
“We are engaging with our lawyers, we want to take Metrorail to the constitutional court,” he said.
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