11 December 2017

South Africa: Metrorail Services On Cape Town Central Line Remain Suspended

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp
Metrorail train at Nyanga train station in Cape Town (file photo).

Metrorail announced that its central line train service remained suspended on Monday afternoon until further notice as commuters struggled to get to and from work using alternative modes of transport.

The line services areas including Khayelitsha, Philippi, Mitchells Plain, Bishop Lavis and Langa.

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said weekly and monthly ticket holders could use Golden Arrow buses from 15:30 and then again after 18:30.

"Single/return tickets to the affected areas are not on sale to allow commuters to use alternative modes of transport," Walker said.

Metrorail stated that the decision was reached after months of sustained vandalism, cable theft and destruction of critical infrastructure in the Bonteheuwel-Netreg-Nyanga area.

"Vandals targeted several mini sub-stations, cables and back-up batteries over the weekend, leaving us no option but to suspend services," Walker said.

He said a technical team was doing repairs under armed escort but there were fears that criminals could launch fresh attacks on infrastructure overnight.

"Our teams report from the site that they are being observed as they work."

He called on police and law enforcement agencies to help Metrorail protection services secure the area to enable services to resume on Tuesday.

Promise to restore service

He said Metrorail was engaging with the SAPS on how to deal with the increase of "aggressive and destructive attacks on infrastructure".

Walker had announced earlier that stations would be closed and no tickets would be on sale until further notice.

"We regret that our commuters once again have to suffer as a result of selfish criminal agendas and will do our utmost to restore services by tomorrow (Tuesday).

"The rate of vandalism simply outstrips the rate of repairs."

He advised commuters to use their own means to find alternative transport.

According to Walker, law enforcement officials are losing the battle against criminals in the area, which is in the grip of a crime wave.

"Our teams are no longer able to stem the tide of vandalism unaided," he said.

Cancellation 'dishonest, unfair'

Walker called on the police to act against illegal scrap dealers, and also appealed to the communities along the railway route to help expose criminals.

Meanwhile, the ANC in the province said it was concerned by the "abrupt" suspension of the entire central line train service.

The route runs along the Chris Hani - Kapteinsklip and Bishop Lavis lines and covers a wide swathe of commuters who rely heavily on the train service and who may not have easy access to alternative transport.

Provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said the party acknowledged that Metrorail in the province had lost up to 101 carriages to arson and vandalism since October 2015.

"The ANC condemns these barbaric acts that compromise a critical service to our people and to our economy. Despite these challenges, Metrorail has had a good resolve to continue providing the services to the Western Cape residents," said Jacobs.

He, however, said a complete cancellation of the service was "dishonest" and "unfair" to residents.

Metrorail was offering a reward of up to R25 000 for information leading to a conviction for vandalism or criminal activity on its lines.

Source: News24

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