Metrorail will on Monday be restoring all its services to the areas on the Cape Flats affected by vandalism this week. Vandals butchered signal cables on the Phillpi line, leaving Metrorail property severely damaged and thousands of commuters stranded. Railway lines from Phillipi onwards were damaged where the railway line split into two. The rail operator was forced to close 11 stations on its busiest route, including Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain, due to the severe impact of the vandalism.
“Vandals struck very strategically,” says Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott.
Security guards on Wednesday spotted the culprits tampering with cables on a section of line between Philippi and Nyanga at about 2am, Metrorail said. The culprits opened fire and fled. The guards chased the suspects, but were unable to catch them.
Cables over 18km section in 20 different places were damaged and the suspects also chopped track boxes, the traffic lights for the trains which regulate the signal. The butchered cables are not only hazardous but also inconvenient to commuters and a challenge for Metrorail’s technical teams to fix.
“This was an intricate job to fix as the cables vary from 20 to 60 individual cables in a single cover. Our team was deployed in two lots at the depot making and manufacturing, while the other team was out fixing it up. Most of the repair work had to be done at a cost of R2 million,” says Scott.
Commuters are up in arms as they have to seek alternative transport, taking more out of their pockets of an unanticipated budgeted. Despite the costs, most are opting to travel by mini bus taxi.
“There are no trains going to Khayelitsha or Phillipi. It’s very bad,” says Onela Siyabonga.
The state of public transport has proven to be a constant irritation affecting ordinary people’s jobs.
“It’s difficult because we come late to work. We even get home late at night due to these down trains,” added Sakeena Viljoen from Mitchells Plain. VOC (Nailah Cornellisen)