Cape Town - The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) on Monday said it was calling on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to accelerate its modernisation programme after commuters went on a rampage in Soweto, Johannesburg, last week.
Commuters stoned trains and set fire to cars belonging to Metrorail staff after trains were delayed on Friday morning.
“In response, Prasa suspended the service until Sunday, saying the delay was due to cable theft. But our members at the rail agency say the delay was as a result of a panel out, which is due to Prasa’s ageing infrastructure and therefore should not have been blamed on the train crew,” said the union in a statement.
“A panel out is when the person keeping watch over the train at the control centre is unable to see it on the system, making it difficult for him/her to direct its movement, which then forces the driver to wait for manual authorisation to avoid collisions.
“Though Satawu condemns the behaviour displayed by commuters at Naledi station on Friday, we understand their frustration with Prasa’s inadequate service. In fact, we raised this issue with the recently appointed CEO Sibusiso Sithole at a bilateral meeting held in early July.”