Firefighters were called to respond to a fire in the early hours on Thursday at Cape Town train station. Picture: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)
Firefighters were called to respond to a fire in the early hours on Thursday at Cape Town train station. Picture: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)

Herron: Prasa heads must roll over train chaos, sabotage by 'sinister forces'

By Chevon Booysen And Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Nov 29, 2019

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Cape Town – A call for Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) heads to roll has been made following yet another attack on trains that brought the entire rail service to an abrupt halt yesterday.

Hundreds of thousands of commuters who rely on the rail service were forced to scramble to find alternative transport after the already crippled rail service saw 18 carriages go up in flames at the Cape Town station early yesterday.

Good Party secretary-general Brett Herron likened the situation to an “Armageddon looming” as rail services were interrupted and the MyCiTi N2 Express remains parked.

“This is not the first time that criminals have gained access to trains that are parked overnight in the Cape Town station. This is incomprehensible.

“A major transport hub, in the heart of the city centre, under the protection of security services, is allowed to be attacked again in exactly the same manner as before. 

"We are entitled to expect that Prasa and Metrorail learnt from the first attacks where the vulnerabilities are and took steps to shut down those vulnerabilities,” said Herron.

Herron had blamed the attacks on a sinister force at work and said the “sabotage of our rail network cannot be allowed to continue”.

“Accountability requires that these leaders show us how they are fixing this, or they should make way for those who are willing and able to do so. So far, it looks like heads should roll,” Herron said.

Attorney Mark Hess said three security companies that were ordered to be redeployed to Prasa premises until a new tender was finalised, or until alternative measures were in place, were not getting co-operation from Prasa.

“It is my instructions from my client that they want to carry out their security duties and curb vandalism, but Prasa is not giving their co-operation. Prasa said they had their own railway unit,” said Hess.

Pushed several times for a response on the call for heads to roll and for comment on the fire's destruction, Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani did not respond.

The ANC in the Western Cape condemned the attack.

Provincial committee co-ordinator Ronalda Nalumango said: “This attack, coupled with the suspension of MyCiTi bus services to Khayelitsha, as well as the three-week-long suspension of services on the central line that services Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, is felt the hardest in parts of our society that are being savaged by poverty, unemployment and inequality.”

Civil society organisation #UniteBehind called for a “competent, professional, experienced, accountable and permanent board” to be appointed.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said two trains were reported on fire at Cape Town station early yesterday at platforms 10 and 16.

“The fire soon spread to adjacent platforms, destroying two full train-sets comprising 18 carriages in total. A large part of the main concourse remains closed,” said Scott.

Cape Times

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