Commuters hope rail services between Chatsworth and Durban are restored
Durban: Commuters travelling by train between Chatsworth and Durban hope the rail service resumes. They say they are paying quadruple the transport cost in lift clubs.
During the initial lockdown last year, services were stopped following damage to, among others, rail lines and theft of underground cables and copper fittings at several stations across eThekwini. At some of the stations in Chatsworth, there were also damage to building infrastructure.
Zama Nomnganga, the spokesperson for the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) in KwaZulu-Natal, said the estimated cost of the damage was R60 million.
He was responding to questions posed by Yogin Devan, a POST columnist, who recently wrote about the damage and the impact on commuters.
Nomnganga said while there were plans to repair the damaged infrastructure, a study had to be conducted to determine the feasibility of reintroducing services. In the interim, commuters have had to pay more for alternate transport.
Pearl Reddy, 48, of Westcliff, was travelling by train for more than 20 years.
Reddy, a clerk, travelled from the Westcliff Station to the Durban Station on Umgeni Road. She paid R170 per month for return travel.
“Now I pay R1 200 per month for a lift club. This takes a big chunk of my salary. We are living in a difficult time and it would be a big help to everyone’s pockets if we could resume travelling by train."
Ashlin Govender, 47, of Westcliff, also travelled from Westcliff Station to Durban Station for 20 years. He works as a driver and pays just over R1 000 a month for a lift club, instead of R170.
“I have no choice but to pay for the lift club as I have a family to support."
He said he was not only impacted financially, but due to peak hour traffic on the roads, he sometimes arrived at work late.
Sagren Pillay, 55, of Croftdene, used to travel from the Chatsglen Station to Durban Station. The sales representative paid R121 per month.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I work from home and go into the office on a Monday. However, I pay around R100 for public transport for one day out of the week. I am concerned how much I would have to pay when I have to go to the office daily. The government needs to see the struggle that people are facing."
Sushie Munsamy, of Umhlatuzana, travelled from the Bayview Station to the Durban Station. She paid R137 per month.
“It was convenient and safe. Luckily, I am now working from home, but when I go to the office, I have to pay R70 a day for a lift club. But I have no choice. We have to think of the petrol price increase. If Prasa repairs the damages to the stations, it will benefit many people. I won't even mind paying R200 a month to travel as it would be far cheaper than travelling by road."
In March, Prasa reportedly said it would cost more than R6 billion to restore services that were damaged nationwide.