Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Sunday called for an immediate end to the violence, vandalism, and criminality involving Metrorail trains in the Cape Town area.
Her call followed arson attacks on Metrorail trains in Kraaifontein, Woodstock, and Cape Town stations during the past week.
“This cannot be allowed in a modern democracy such as ours, where individuals with ulterior motives undermine government commitments to modernise our rail system, and turn it into a fertile ground for criminality,” Peters said in a statement.
“This deliberate destruction stands condemned and law enforcement agencies are called upon to arrest perpetrators of this senseless destruction of property, criminality, and sabotage.”
The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) had to conduct an in-depth investigation into the nature, extent, and severity of “these recent acts of disdain”, she said.
Government respected and continued to promote the rights of the community to peaceful demonstration, including the promotion of labour relations.
“However, if there are any grievances against Prasa these must be raised within the proper channels created by our constitutional and legal framework,” Peters said.
Earlier on Sunday, City of Cape Town mayoral committee member: Transport for Cape Town Brett Herron also condemned the the violence and destruction of Metrorail infrastructure and carriages that took place on Thursday and Friday evenings at the Kraaifontein staging yard and the Cape Town and Woodstock stations.
The fact that Metrorail was in a state of crisis could not be ignored, he said.
“The sabotage of the service by illegal strikers and the longstanding issues with Metrorail’s infrastructure – among which defective signal systems and point detection, as well as electrical malfunction – must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“I am extremely concerned about the impact this has on thousands of commuters on almost a daily basis. I am also deeply worried about the long-term consequences it holds for the local economy of Cape Town and the spill-over effect on our already congested roads as the delays force commuters to make use of private vehicles or other roads-based public transport,” he said.
The city’s transport information centre on Friday received 8 297 calls, as opposed to the 4 887 on the previous Friday, and another 6 000 on Saturday.
Almost all of these calls related to the Metrorail service – delays and commuters being stranded and not knowing how to get home or to work.
“I urge Metrorail’s management to take charge of this untenable situation. For the past four years I have been engaging with Metrorail to try to improve the service to our residents, and we are willing to assist in any way we can, particularly with regards to the policing of their service and infrastructure. It is time for Metrorail to come to the party. The infrastructure may be old but I believe it can operate reliably if it is protected from vandalism and disruption. That must be our urgent priority.
“I also urge the South African Police Service to arrest those responsible for the destruction of carriages and the sabotage of the train service,” Herron said.
He announced that the city would deploy additional MyCiTi buses on the N2 express route between Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha and Cape Town to assist commuters who may be affected by the expected delays of Metrorail trains on Monday.
The Golden Arrow Bus Service would also deploy additional buses on routes across the city to prevent commuters being stranded, Herron said.[Source: African News Agency]