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WATCH: Massive delays, overcrowded trains and theft frustrate Cape commuters

30 November, 10:03 AM

James de Villiers and Zukile Daniel

Cape Town – A 22-minute drive between Philippi and Epping can take up to three hours for Metrorail commuters travelling on the embattled passenger railway network. 

This as commuters have to fight off thieves, hang off windows on overcrowded carriages and avoid fights just to get to work in the morning. 

Speaking to News24 on the Nyanga platform, Byron Erisben from Manenberg said he is afraid of losing his job due to the continued delays to Metrorail's service. 

Erisben said he usually arrives at the platform at 06:00 to catch a train for work at 08:00, but said the train is likely to only arrive at 11:00. 

"I am getting warnings after warnings because I have the same story every day, saying the trains are late...the trains are late," Erisben said. 

"It's like they don't believe me anymore at work but it is the truth that I am talking, the trains are late - you know what I am saying?"

Erisben said he's stopped paying ticket fees due to Metrorail's deteriorating service. 

"Metrorail and Transnet [can't] actually expect people to be buying tickets because it is a bit difficult at this moment for anyone to abide by the law of buying tickets," Erisben said. 

"For them to help us so that we can also do the right thing, they must fix the trains first and then everyone will do the right thing, man.”

Meanwhile, Lucky Majerimani said he's been injured several times on the train when fights break out between frustrated commuters. 

"Please, I would like to ask Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) to fix things – they must deliver for people."

Regional Prasa Manager Richard Walker sympathised with commuters, and explained that the rail agency is unable to meet commuter demand after it lost over 100 coaches due to arson since October 2016.

"We also sit with the issue of obsolete infrastructure and train fleets, and obviously this is also exacerbated by the incidences of crime in those areas where we are operating," Walker said. 

He however believes that the recent amendments in the criminal matters act will allow for harsher sentences, which should deter vandalism to the railway lines. 

"The public should also assist Prasa in closing illegal scrap metal shops which operate around railway lines and buy stolen property," Walker added.

Watch for more. 

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