Vengeful commuters torch trains
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Johannesburg - Passengers meant to travel on Metrorail trains in Germiston were stranded on Wednesday morning after
enraged commuters torched two trains because several trains were running late on Tuesday night, causing damage estimated at about R30 million.
Although the affected trains had been removed by 8am following the blaze on platform three at the Germiston station, remnants of the fire were still evident.
The railway, strewn with litter, and part of an adjacent building were black from the smoke, and melted wires hung from the burnt structure.
Metrorail spokeswoman Lillian Mofokeng estimated the damage to be R30m.
She said there would be further delays throughout the day, with trains going between the Germiston and Cleveland stations affected.
Neither of the two trains will be operational.
“It is important that commuters understand that one of these trains makes 12 trips a day. This will have a serious impact on our daily operations because multiple trips will not be possible,” Mofokeng said.
Commuter Promise Kganyago told The Star he was shocked that trains had been set alight.
“When I got here early this morning, I found out the train was burnt; now I’m forced to find another (way) to get to work on time,” he said, as he stood under the derelict structure in the chilly breeze.
A fruit vendor said on Tuesday a group of commuters had gone to the office at the railway station to complain about a change to the routes. “They then came to the trains and started arguing and the next thing, I saw the trains were burning,” said the man, who did not want to be named.
Ekurhuleni Emergency Services spokesman Eric Maloka said the fire was reported just after 7pm.
“When emergency services and police were called to the scene, the trains were already burning, but we worked quickly to extinguish the fire,” he said.
No injuries were reported.
“A full investigation is under way. Besides the damage to the trains, the fire has also caused a lot of inconvenience to commuters who rely on them to get to work,” he said.