Officials demand swift action after burning of train coaches in Retreat
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Cape Town - The Western Cape Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela and Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, on Thursday condemned the burning of a train coach at Retreat station.
One of the motor coaches of a train stationed overnight in the Retreat yard was destroyed. The fire was reported at approximately 10pm on Wednesday night. No injuries were reported relating to the fire.
In a statement, Madikizela said he would be meeting with Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday next week to find a solution to challenges facing the rail system.
“Since my appointment last year, I committed myself to work with Minister Mbalula and Prasa to deal with the challenges facing our rail system. It is always a concern that passengers, especially school children, who have just returned to school, have to be inconvenienced by challenges facing the rail system.
“I commend the City's Fire Rescue Service and Metrorail response teams for their swift response to the fire. I have been alerted that an investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the fire. However, I am deeply concerned by the frequency of these fires which endanger commuters’ lives, and contribute to increased congestion on our roads as commuters are forced to make use of taxis and busses, which are intended to be feeder forms of transport from and to trains,” he said.
Fritz said: “It is essential that those responsible for the fire be brought to book. For that reason, I have reported the issue of police inefficiency in investigating train arson to the Western Cape Police Ombudsman, Mr JJ Brand. I further alerted Mr Brand of this incident. Anyone with information relating to police inefficiency in investigating train arson is asked to make their submission by January 31.”
In recent years, Cape Town commuters have been subjected to train delays and service cancellations due to infrastructure vandalism and several arson attacks.
In December last year, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) appealed to the public to help confirm the identity of the four suspects captured on security cameras in the “act” of train arson at Cape Town Station. Prasa group chief executive Nkosinathi Sishi said setting fire to railway infrastructure was inexcusable and sabotage.
More than 140 carriages had been destroyed in the province since the start of the sporadic spate of fires in 2015, causing millions of rand in damages.