Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has condemned the latest incident of train arson, saying such attacks endanger the lives and livelihoods of residents of the province. On Tuesday night, another train was gutted at Cape Town station, which will result in chaos for commuters. According to a statement from PRASA, platforms 12, 13 and 16-19, remain closed as a result of previous fire damage. While the cause of this fire is not yet known, it follows a spate of arson attacks that started in back 2015.
“Arson attacks on our trains endanger the lives of our citizens and impact the entire rail system, affecting thousands of people and impacting our economy daily,” says Premier Winde.
“We will fight to take over the management of the rail system in the province from national government so that trains are safe, work and run on time.”
The Department of Community Safety has offered a R100 000 for information that will lead to the arrest and prosecution of train arsonists.
“We urge anyone with information to come forward.”
Members of the public are however requested not to provide false or misleading information as this slows down the investigation process and wastes valuable resources.
Premier Winde said: “Once President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced his new cabinet, I will be requesting meetings with the Ministers of Police and of Transport, in order to discuss the way forward. The financial impact of these attacks extends far beyond the replacement costs of carriages, as train delays will impact people’s ability to get to work, productivity, and ultimately the economy of this province.”
“There has been a visible improvement when it comes to safety on our trains due to the 100 security officials deployed in the new Rail Enforcement Unit funded by the Western Cape Government, City of Cape Town and Prasa, however, they can’t be everywhere at once and we need to expose the criminal elements behind these arson attacks,” Premier Winde said.
“These are acts of criminal violence that are self-serving and do nothing to improve dialogue or service delivery in the province,” he said.
Minister of Transport and Public Works Bonginkosi Madikizela and Minister of Community Safety Albert Fritz also visited the Cape Town station this morning and has called for an urgent meeting with PRASA and the City of Cape Town, partners in the Rail Safety Unit to discuss a way forward.
Minister Madikizela said: “I will have a meeting with the city, PRASA and the Department of Community Safety and review the contract that we have in place. The contract expires in June and we need to assess the impact it made, and use lessons learned from the contract to improve rail safety.”
Minister Fritz said: “As a province, we can no longer tolerate train arson and the incredible danger it poses. The repercussions are too high. Arresting the culprits and convicting them is the utmost priority. That is why, as the Minister of Community Safety, I will work closely with the SAPS, City of Cape Town, PRASA, Railway Unit and Province to ensure this.”