Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Monday condemned the burning of 19 Metrorail train coaches at the Salt River depot in Cape Town.
The coaches were set alight on Sunday afternoon forcing Metrorail technicians to work through the night to reconfigure replacement sets.
According to Peters, the arson attack led to an operational loss of five train trips both at peak hour and off-peak hour, inconveniencing 9000 commuters.
“This particular region has been experiencing a shortage of train sets in the past few months and this unfortunate act of criminality will worsen the situation,” said Peters.
“The loss of assets to the Passengers Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will run into millions [of rand] as a result of this incident and resources allocated for other services will have to be diverted to replace the loss suffered by Prasa.”
The alleged arsonist was caught on site with gloves, goggles, a lighter, and three laptop computers stolen at the depot.
Police have confirmed the 29-year old man will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on a charge of malicious damage to property.
“I wish to commend Prasa/Metrorail for their swift intervention to ensure that measures were put in place to assist stranded commuters,” said Peters.
“The Western Cape rolling stock team is currently preparing unaffected coaches, and out of the burnt sets two trains will be prepared for the commuters.” SAPA