'They need to be protected' - stranded Gauteng commuters sympathise with striking Metrorail staff

2019-07-26 13:36
Metrorail train. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Metrorail train. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Stranded train commuters in Lenasia, Johannesburg expressed sympathy for striking Metrorail employees who downed tools on Friday.

By 06:30, a number of commuters were left stranded at the Lenasia train station. Some of them spoke to News24.

Malerato Motelele, who was on her way to work in Langlaagte, Johannesburg, said most of the trains that ferried them to and from work daily were outdated and needed a revamp.

"Our trains are no longer safe. They are old and don't have windows," she said.

She said the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) should have given them sufficient notice so that they could arrange alternative transport.

"Today I'm late and I have no option but to catch a taxi to work.

"I only have R20 in my pocket and I will arrange extra cash to return home in the afternoon. Trains are cheap because I spend R160 for a monthly ticket," she said.

Serious challenge on trains

Lucy Shokana, added that safety was a serious challenge on trains.

"Commuters are robbed daily. Women passengers are the main targets because their wigs and weaves are snatched inside trains. We are not safe inside trains.

"We support Metrorail workers. They need to be protected and deserve to work in a safe environment where their lives are safe," said Shokana.

She urged Prasa to employ more security guards to ensure that commuters and employees travel safely.

Among scores of stranded passengers was 17-year-old pupil, who gave his name as Thuso.

The Grade 11 pupil was on his way to school in Meadowlands, Soweto.

"I only have money to catch a taxi to Baragwanath taxi rank and from there I will plead with taxi drivers to drop me off at school. Luckily, I know many taxi drivers and I will also ask for their assistance when I return home.

"I was not aware of the strike. I am worried about what are we going to do on Monday. I hope the strike will end today. I don't want to miss school," he said.

READ: Metrorail strike: 'Send the SANDF to our train stations'

Meanwhile, taxi drivers at the Lenasia taxi rank complained that the strike had a negative impact on their business.

Taxi driver, Sibusiso Mazibuko said by 07:00 on an average day, they usually have queues of passengers who arrive  by train.

"There is not a single queue today. Trains are our main supply of passengers. Whenever, rail workers go on strike, we suffer because the majority of our passengers who are aware about their strikes use alternative transport from their homes," said Mazibuko.

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Read more on:    metrorail  |  johannesburg  |  protests
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