At around 09.30 this morning, the senior management of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) sat down in a conference room at the Townhouse Hotel to brief members of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport on the ongoing spate of burnings of Metrorail trains in Cape Town. PRASA claims to have a plan to tackle the problem.
Two and a half hours later, the city bowl was covered by a cloud of black smoke, as another train (some reports say two trains) burst into flame in Cape Town’s central station, about 600 metres from where PRASA was explaining its plan.
Whether this was just an unfortunate co-incidence, or whether the perpetrators of these arson attacks have a keen sense of irony, we cannot know. But it is yet another blow for the long-suffering, mainly working class, commuters of Cape Town, who have seen the rail service decline over the last few years to the point where less than half the scheduled number of trains run on any given day; where armed gangs roam the carriages more or less at will, robbing people and routinely throwing them out of the broken windows and doors.
Report by CPLO