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By Citizen Reporter


DA mocks Ramaphosa and Nzimande for trains still ‘stuck in Cape Town station’

The opposition has called the new prototype's launch a publicity stunt that won't address the real challenges facing commuters.

In a statement on Wednesday, the DA said that two new trains that had been unveiled at a launch event two weeks ago in Cape Town, to much fanfare, were yet to leave the Cape Town station, because they were “stuck”.

They pointed out that over the same time period another two trains had been burnt, with the Easter weekend seeing more arson and one suspect finally being arrested for it.

Western Cape premier candidate Alan Winde said the president’s event on 9 April had been “a political stunt that has not made any meaningful difference to commuters’ lives and has not alleviated the chronic failings of rail in the Western Cape”.

The trains he was referring to were the prototype of a planned new fleet for Metrorail. They were not damaged over the weekend.

Plans have been put in place to have the blue and white prototypes replace the ageing yellow Metrorail sets. It was not clear when these new trains would be put into service.

Winde said that at the launch event, Ramaphosa had claimed that government would fix the trains in the province and make sure they ran on time, but had not provided a plan for doing so.

“Right now we have 250,000 more people on our roads who used to travel on trains, because they cannot rely on the rail service. Just like the new trains, our existing rolling stock is not rolling at all, with many trains out of service due to arson, vandalism and rampant cable theft.

“While the new trains have failed to leave the station, a further blow was struck to Cape Town commuters on Sunday as two trains were set alight in Cape Town station. The damage to the trains is severe: a total of 12 coaches, two motor coaches and nine trailers were destroyed – damage totalling R33 million,” said Winde.

He referenced Transport Minister Blade Nzimande blaming a “sinister force at work trying to destroy our rail system” for the damage, but Winde alleged that the sinister force was actually the ANC itself, “whose blatant corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA has all but collapsed train services in the province”.

“It has failed entirely to secure trains, and no one has been convicted for repeated arson attacks in the past two years. A suspect was arrested this weekend, but criminals are not deterred by current legislation, which only considers the burning of trains to be malicious damage to property because trains are not fixed structures. If the ANC was serious about stopping these attacks, it would be allocating all the necessary resources to prevent them – but it does not.”

He called for proper rail management, which was about more than “simply supplying two new trains or putting a plaster on a gaping wound”.

“It is about wholesale management failure which needs to be rectified.”

Winde complained that the DA-run province and city of Cape Town were being hamstrung because the train service was controlled by the national ANC government.

“We will fight to have the management and control of rail operations placed in the hands of the province instead of the national government, starting with metro-level control. We will work towards creating an integrated system in which trains, buses and taxi service providers work together to offer safe, reliable, on time and cost-effective public transport.

“We call on the minister of transport to devolve control of Metrorail to the City of Cape Town, as outlined in the White Paper on National Rail Policy that was drawn up by his own department. As long as the train system is controlled by national government, the Western Cape will continue to bear the brunt of ANC failures.”

(Edited by Charles Cilliers)

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