18 March 2019

South Africa: 'Its a Daily Occurrence for Us' - Commuter Comments On Ramaphosa's Peak-Hour Train Delay

President Cyril Ramaphosa felt the frustration of Prasa train commuters on Monday during an ANC election campaign blitz in Pretoria.

The train Ramaphosa boarded at Mabopane station was meant to leave at 06:30. Instead, it left an hour later.

The journey should have taken 45 minutes. But the train only arrived at Bosman station at 10:40, meaning the ANC president was late for his scheduled meeting with the ANC's top six at Luthuli House, which was meant to start at 10:00.

A frustrated Ramaphosa was seen engaging with commuters. At one station, the train was stuck for 30 minutes.

Train delays

Meanwhile, commuters who were waiting for the train at Pretoria station expressed their frustration to the media.

One woman, Ntombi Selepi, said it was a daily occurrence.

Selepi, who works for a major retailer in Pretoria, said she had received two warnings for being late due to train delays.

"I am happy that the president is getting to see how we live every day. It's a daily frustration for us as ordinary South Africans and government does nothing," she added.

Upon arrival three hours later, Ramaphosa told News24 his train ride was "long, but good".

Outside the train station, he told commuters that if nothing was done about the poor service, "heads would roll".

Ramaphosa said Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who accompanied him during the blitz, was angry about the delay and he had to calm him down.

"We saw for ourselves how the train service is really bad for the people of our country. Firstly, they arrive late and therefore everybody arrives late at work. We heard a number of people saying, every day it's the same problem of late arrivals... This was an unannounced arrival. We went to the station and we saw how our trains never arrive on time."

He also told commuters he was shocked that there were no facilities at stations, such as toilets.

Lax security

"We also saw that there is no safety on the station and no safety on the trains. A number of people were complaining that there are thieves on the train and we realised that Prasa security is lax."

The train was very slow with continuous and unexplained stops, he added.

"A trip of 50km can take us three hours. It's unacceptable and it must come to an end. We are going to talk to Prasa and tell them they must get this right or otherwise heads must roll."

Makhura said the train ride proved to him that "our people are suffering".

The Gauteng premier added that trains stopped in the middle of nowhere and at times didn't even arrive at scheduled stops.

Ramaphosa then urged South Africans to go out on their numbers to vote on May 8. He said citizens should not take it for granted that the ANC would win the elections.

"Let's all wake up on that day to make sure the ANC takes it."

Source: News24

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