The South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) on Tuesday called on rail service provider Metrorail to provide alternative transport for commuters left stranded by the suspension of its service on the key Central Line in Cape Town.
The civic organisation said that the inconvenience and frustration caused to the working class and poor who had bought weekly and monthly tickets is unacceptable.
“The rail operator must urgently resolve whatever infrastructure challenges it is facing and review its strategy to combat vandalism and cable theft in partnership with commuter forums. It must speedily address rail transport challenges that commuters are experiencing,” said Sanco national spokesperson, Jabu Mahlangu.
On Monday, Metrorail advised Cape Town commuters to make use of alternative transport following the suspension of services on Cape Town’s Central Line, blaming the decision on vandalism, cable theft and the destruction of infrastructure.
Mahlangu said police must investigate whether ongoing vandalism on Metrorail and equipment is a deliberate sabotage attempt to undermine the passenger rail transport system.
“These are impacting negatively on commuter’s jobs, their safety, businesses and the local economy. The annual loss of over R125-million damage to the rail infrastructure is not sustainable.”
He questioned what has become of former SAPS Acting Commissioner General Kgomotso Phahlane’s undertaking for increased visibility along major railway lines to curb attacks on Metrorail trains and equipment.
Mahlangu said that acts of arson including acts of vandalism and cable theft inconvenienced and hit the poor who could not afford alternative public transport the hardest.
He said that a reliable and predictable service is important for commuters who must arrive at their destinations on time.
“It is critical for Metrorail to improve communication and security of its trains. In case of delays, there must be an indication of what is the problem and how long it is going to take to fix it,” he stressed.
Metrorail must be more accountable to rail users and more responsive to their needs, Mahlangu added.