The recent spate of train fires in Cape Town are the result of criminal activity which must be urgently halted, said mayoral committee member for transport and urban development Brett Herron as another fire broke out.
“It is undeniable that a sinister force is at work to completely destroy our rail system,” Heron, the city’s member of the mayoral committee for transport and urban development, said in a statement on Saturday.
“Our commuter rail system is under relentless attack and this is clearly not opportunistic crime but a well orchestrated programme of sabotage.”
On Saturday late afternoon, two carriages were set alight at Cape Town station in a suspected arson attack, according to the City’s fire and rescue spokesperson Theo Layne.
Over the past year, more than 140 carriages had been destroyed by fire.
This Saturday’s fire marks the sixth such incident in Cape Town this year and damage estimates are currently running into the tens of millions.
Corné Mulder, FF Plus chief whip and provincial leader: Western Cape
27 July 2018
The destruction of railway wagons and other infrastructure of Metrorail in Cape Town is out of control and the situation that thousands of commuters have to face every day is nothing short of acts of terrorism that are paralysing Cape Town.
At present, unbridled anarchy is at the order of the day at the transport system with railway wagons being torched, criminal activities being committed on the train, infrastructure falling to pieces and almost no reliable time tables.
Earlier today, two railway wagons were torched at Retreat near Muizenberg – this follows shortly after another incident at the Cape Town station that took place on Saturday, where two more wagons were utterly destroyed while 11 others as well as infrastructure were damaged. The total cost of the damage is estimated to be approximately R30 million.
Today’s incident is the fifth incident this year in which wagons are torched. This is above and beyond the acts of vandalism, like cable theft, that occur almost on a daily basis and that contribute to train rides being cancelled or trains arriving at their destinations several hours later than scheduled.
From October 2016 to October 2017, Metrorail lost a third of its passengers – a decrease in number from 15,4 million to 10,9 million – these people simply could no longer put up with a transport system that is so unreliable.
The biggest problem, however, is the hundreds of thousands of passengers who are entirely dependent on Metrorail and that have no other way to get to their destinations every day.
It is general knowledge that people have lost their jobs as a result of this and that learners and students often miss exams or cannot attend school at all.
It is important to note that Metrorail transports the majority of the Cape Metro’s labour force and, therefore, it functions as the jugular of the region’s economy.
Over the last few years, the service has slowly but surely come to a near standstill. It has reached a point where the only way to describe it is a situation of utter anarchy. Metrorail keeps promising improvement, but nothing ever comes of it.
The DA-controlled City of Cape Town cannot keep shrugging its shoulders and saying that it is not responsible for managing the system. The reality is that it is affecting Cape Town directly and that immediate action must be taken to put an end to this terrible situation. Action is what is needed, not more empty promises.
What is happening here is reminiscent of what happened with the water crisis in Cape Town over the last few years. The DA-controlled City shifted the responsibility to solve the crisis to the shoulders of the ANC national government and then sat back with its hands folded and looked on as things went downhill.
The very same thing is happening with Metrorail. The FF Plus will engage with the various stakeholders affected by this so as to put pressure on the local and national authorities to find a solution to the problem as soon as possible.