Brett Heron, the mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, and Dalton Ndongeni, of Public Transport Voice, are both highly disappointed that another train carriage caught fire at Koeberg station, one of two incidents on Tuesday morning that affected commuters.
An investigation is under way and at this stage there is no certainty whether it was in fact another arson attack or an electrical fault. It is hoped that the R47 million to be spent on a rail enforcement unit will bear dividends in tracking down who is responsible for the series of arson attacks this year.
It was a major setback when the police botched a potential breakthrough at the end of last month when a suspect who had set a train seat alight at Cape Town station had to be released. It had been the third arson attack at Cape Town station that month.
"The suspect was released because there was a problem in the way the police had handled the identification process. They were not able to use the arrest opportunity to take the case further because the suspect had to be released," said a source, who did not want to be identified.
Commenting on Tuesday's fire at Koeberg station, Heron said: "The information I got from Metrorail is that the cause of today's fire has not been determined and that the damage was relatively contained. It doesn't seem that we have lost a whole train set."
Heron confirmed that "everything is on track for this new unit to definitely start operating by the end of September".
Ndongeni said of the latest train fire: "It's very disturbing as we only have one train every hour on the Central Line. It's a very hateful action and they are not thinking about the commuter."
He was stunned to hear that an arson suspect had to be released and was therefore unable to shed light on who the mastermind might be behind the concerted assault on Cape Town's trains this year.
"It's very disturbing to hear that. It's a challenge we are facing because we have enforcers of the law who don't even know the law that they are enforcing."
Luckily, commuters had an easier time on Tuesday afternoon. According to Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott, the carriage that was set alight at Koeberg station and an unidentified person that was run over by a train in Mitchells Plain led to many passengers arriving late for work in the morning.
Scott said the extent of the damage at Koeberg station, which the City’s Fire and Rescue responded to at 10.05am, is not yet known and the gutted carriage will be taken to the Passenger Rail Agency of SA depot to be assessed before a full investigation can take place.
"Preliminary reports confirm no injuries. The swift reaction of response teams extinguished the fire quickly, containing the damage to one carriage."