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Johannesburg - Threats by commuters to burn down the Gautrain are “absurd”, Gauteng transport and roads MEC Ismail Vadi said on Monday.
“In a country where costly transport infrastructure development has taken centre stage in the National Development Plan, it will be absolutely absurd to threaten to destroy existing transport and rail infrastructure,” Vadi said in a statement.
On Wednesday, a group of irate commuters threatened to torch Gautrain coaches if the authorities did not urgently improve the Metrorail train service.
They had gathered outside the Bosman Railway Station, in Pretoria, to demand improved service from Metrorail.
Relying on the train service had been a frustrating experience for thousands of commuters, said protest leader Reuben Rathelele.
He said the transport department did not do a proper needs analysis for the majority of South Africans when it invested in the Gautrain.
Vadi said the Gauteng region was an integrated cluster of cities, towns and urban nodes which together made up the economic heartland of South Africa.
“The backbone of this economic heartland is rail as a mode of public transport.”
A plan by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) prioritised Metrorail to develop a “super rail corridor” which included the Mabopane-Pretoria, Pretoria-Germiston-Johannesburg, and the Johannesburg-Soweto corridors.
“Let us stand and work together towards an efficient and sustainable passenger rail system that works for all, instead of threatening to destroy key public transport infrastructure,” said Vadi. - Sapa