Fired staff suspected of train vandalism

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IOL ca p2 metrorail trains done INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS A man walks on a railway track near Nyanga Junction. Photo: Henk Kruger

Cape Town - Metrorail suspects that the vandals responsible for wrecking Metrorail’s Mitchells Plain line last week were former security guards for the railway who were disgruntled after they were fired.

Regional manager Richard Walker said the group responsible were “90-plus” security guards who worked for a company contracted to patrol and protect Metrorail’s assets.

The group were fired by their employer after a dispute, and could have sabotaged Metrorail’s signalling system as twisted revenge on their boss, said Walker.

The train service was up and running by yesterday morning, although there is still work to be done to complete the R2.5 million repair effort.

Walker said that judging by the modus operandi of the vandals, it could only have been the “guys who previously patrolled the rails”.

He refused to name the security company. Last week, Metrorail laid a charge of vandalism with police.

Nothing had been stolen during the attacks – the aim was just destruction. One signal was set on fire using a tyre filled with petrol.

“You can practically see how this group moved minutes apart, as we lost contact with the signals.”

The Western Cape High Court granted an urgent interdict against the group on Sunday, and their case is due to come before court today.

Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant said that sums would be run to assess the economic impact of the major public transport disruption.

“But I’m also worried about the effect it has had on relationships between employers and employees,” he said. “There is a lack of trust as a result of train delays.”

Meanwhile, the train line chaos has proved a boon for the new MyCiTi N2 expressway route.

Demand for the city-run bus service more than doubled last week as stranded commuters looked to alternatives, according to mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron.

He said that MyCiTi would continue to run additional buses on the route because of all the new passengers.

Golden Arrow manager Francois Meyer thanked passengers for their patience which was severely tested as the buses provided a contingency service while the trains were not running.

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Cape Argus

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