Metrorail cautiously resuming Cape Town lines

2016-09-24 18:12
Train station. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Train station. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Metrorail is cautiously resuming services along its Khayelitsha/Kapteinsklip/Sarepta line after services were cancelled because of protest damage, the company said on Saturday.

But a complete recovery from the damage done during protests which spilled over from Langa, will take longer, possibly even weeks, spokesperson Riana Scott said.

She said regional manager Richard Walker and the repair teams were disheartened to see the "wanton destruction" of the crucial equipment necessary to serve the hundreds of thousands of commuters who use the service.

"Yet our engineers immediately tackled repairs that will enable us to start up a limited train service [Sunday]," Walker said in a statement.

"Unless authorities get a grip on destructive protests and law enforcement agencies apprehend the perpetrators, this scenario will continue to play itself out, leaving breadwinners without transport and learners unable to access schools" he said.

"We simply cannot afford to lose any more infrastructure; our capacity to meet demand has already been eroded to the point where we were forced to reduce our timetable, resulting in untenable overcrowding during peak hours, an extra-ordinary maintenance burden and employees having to deal with abusive customers."

Creditor payments

He said the targeting of the city's backbone of public transport this past week prompted high level collaboration between transport and law enforcement authorities.

"There was widespread acknowledgement that these entities must focus and leverage resources, technology and capabilities to secure railway infrastructure during such events."

Business Day reported in April that the cost of the losses by that time as a result of vandalism and arson was about R70m. In 2015, losses amounted to R128m.

Meanwhile, Prasa is battling to pay the money it owes to two security companies charged with keeping the trains and commuters safe.

The damage came in the middle of a court order forcing Prasa to pay outstanding invoices to the two security companies contracted to keep the lines, trains and stations safe.

Chuma Security and Supreme Security Services were owed R7.3m together but are battling to get the money.

The guards work along the commuter routes to Strand, Wellington, Langa, Bonteheuwel and Khayelitsha and are considered an important deterrent to crime on trains.

The companies have already been granted two attachment orders - one for a train, and one for computer equipment - both of which were carried out.

The companies said in their court application that without their invoices being settled they cannot pay their employees. And if the employees do not get paid they cannot afford to pay their own financial responsibilities, even transport to get to work.

In the last application Chuma Security was owed R2.4m and Supreme Security Services is owed two payments of R2.4m each.

Sithethi Ngcwangu, a managing member of Chuma Security, said his staff did not believe him when he explained that he could not pay them until Prasa paid him.

They kept going to work, but were showing signs of not even being able to afford the transport to do this anymore.

After the last order, he said Prasa was able to find enough money last week to pay them R900 000 each of what was owed.

"If the guards don't go to work, it is considered breach of contract," said a worried Ngcwangu.

Scott declined to comment, saying it was a contractual issue.

The companies were awarded the contracts in May 2011 and the last application was their sixth to force payment since 2013.

Ngcwangu said there was hope that Treasury might step in to alleviate the situation so that they could be paid, and workers would be able to catch up with their own debts caused by not getting their salaries.

Read more on:    metrorail  |  security  |  public transport

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