Hundreds of Phoenix residents queued from early morning hours to receive “basically free” medical treatment from the Transnet-Phelophepa Healthcare train on Wednesday.
Kanipen Moonsamy and his wife arrived at the Phoenix railway station at 1 am and there were already 12 people ahead of them.
He said he had been wanting to get new prescription glasses for some time now but could not afford an optometrist.
Thembi Dlomo, a Phoenix resident who came for a dental check-up, said the train queues were shorter than at the local clinic or hospital.
By 10 am, Moonsamy had gone through a number of electronic eye tests and bought two specifically modified spectacles for R60.
“This would cost me thousands of rands in a private clinic, it’s basically free. I need this for reading and driving because I can barely see anything but this is going to make it better now. I’m very happy.”
First introduced in 1994 as a three-car clinic, there are currently two 19-carriage “miracle trains” offering very affordable optometry, dental, psychology and pharmaceutical services across South Africa.
Shamona Kandia, senior manager of health at Transnet, said the legislation prohibits them from offering completely free healthcare, so they charge R5 for examinations.
Kandia said, they had assisted more than 500 patients by 11am.
The train will remain in Phoenix for the next two weeks before making its final KwaZulu-Natal stops in Pietermaritzburg and Newcastle.