Strike costs mounting

2010-05-19 00:00

TRANSNET announced yesterday it has suffered more than R30 million in damages to its property across the country as it confirmed a second derailment, which the company suspects is an act of sabotage.

It is alleged that Durban has experienced the worst violence.

In the second derailment in KwaZulu-Natal blamed on the strike, a six-coach rail maintenance vehicle known as a “speno” machine, was derailed at about 9 am yesterday.

The vehicle, which had six maintenance workers on board, was travelling from KwaDukuza (Stanger) towards Durban North when it was derailed in the Tinley area, about 20 km from KwaDukuza.

Transnet spokesperson John Dludlu said no one was injured as the coaches were moving slowly.

“We strongly suspect acts of sabotage because the nature of the damage looks like they were done by people with expertise. The rail was definitely tampered with,” he added.

Dludlu said the incident followed the derailment of a fuel tanker train south of Durban on Tuesday last week.

He said this incident, which happened at Burlington Shallcross, was the worst act of sabotage since the strike started on May 10.

“Approximately 100 metres of rail track was sabotaged, causing the derailment of three locomotives and six wagons.

This suggested “very strongly that the perpetrators had intimate knowledge of the infrastructure,” said Dludlu.

The wage strike is led by the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu).

The Labour Court recently interdicted the unions against unlawfully interfering with the business or activities of Transnet.

“It also ordered the strikers to refrain from interfering with the performance by any officials or employees of Transnet of their duties; obstructing or hindering Transnet, its officials or their employees from carrying out their activities; blockading streets and obstructing traffic; assaulting or intimidating … Transnet’s officials or employees; and damaging public property and property of Transnet,” Dludlu said.

Utatu president George Strauss, who left a meeting with Transnet to speak to The Witness, distanced striking workers from yesterday’s alleged act of sabotage.

“It could have been an act of theft because there are lots of thefts around times like these. No one can say it was sabotage until it is pro­ven,” said Strauss.

Satawu leaders were not available for comment as they were apparently locked in negotiations at the time of going to print.

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