Metrorail at point of no return after protest

TRAIN services on Metrorail’s Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Bishop Lavis lines are set to remain suspended today due to extensive damage caused to property during service protests earlier this week.

The damage caused on the central line during the height of the Langa protests on Tuesday has resulted in services along the train line being suspended for a second consecutive day.

Metrorail technicians need time to assess the full extent of the damage and only after their assessment can repairs be prioritised and timelines be confirmed to reinstate a partial or full service, said Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott.

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said no tickets would be sold until further notice. Walker said the rail operator has reached the point of no return after nearly 12 months of being under attack.

He said he hoped to have clarity and an estimate of resumption of services today, adding that it was regrettable commuters have been left stranded, and advised commuters to make alternative transport arrangements.

Damage to trains followed protests in Langa. Hostel residents were up in arms about a lack of services and wanted their hostels renovated or rebuilt.

Police spokesperson Andre Traut said of the 41 people arrested in the Langa protests, one was charged with possession of a petrol bomb. .

The suspects, three of them juveniles, were released at the Bishops Lavis Magistrate’s Court on R300 each.

Traut said the situation in Langa was being monitored.

Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Janine Myburgh said the city “cannot afford the massive disruptions caused by protest actions that keep workers from their jobs”.

“Metrorail service carries about 150 000 people to work and many of them arrived hours late while many more were unable to reach their places of employment,” said Myburgh.

“The protests were about housing problems in Langa, but the people worst affected were workers simply trying to earn their daily bread,” she added. She said the real victims were the workers and the businesses which employed them.

“Money that could have been used to improve conditions and transport now has to be used for repairs and replacements, so we have gone backwards,” Myburgh said.

Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant estimated the damages to run into millions of rands.

Transport mayco member Brett Herron said the impact on commuters, should rail service continue to be destroyed, would be catastrophic.

Herron said an additional 555 commuters travelled on the MyCiTi N2 Express service between Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Cape Town yesterday morning.