It’s always astonishing to see the level of commitment one gives when there is something to gain. It’s a different reality when one only visits a packed, windowless coach for a 45-minute train ride, even if you do get to your destination three hours later. You see, when you know you have the option or the reality of not coming back the next day, things seem much more bearable.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s election head Fikile Mbalula, and Gauteng Premier David Makhura were stuck on a train from the Mabopane train station to the Bosman station in the Pretoria CBD. On Monday morning during the ANC’s blitz election campaign to appeal to the commoner, the president and his charismatic dignitaries boarded the train at around 7am, only to arrive at Bosman at 10.40am.
Some happy commuters on the train with Ramaphosa said the president got to experience first-hand what many workers go through day-to-day, with no option for an alternative. Which is the exact point.
It’s a different story when you’re babysitting, knowing the baby’s parents are coming home and you’ll get your payment at the end of the night. This same theory, unfortunately, applies to you, Mr President.
We heard you speak with conviction that something had to be done about the Metrorail system, which you claimed has destabilised the economy, since many labourers risked being fired for constant “train-tales” – as those who live far from this reality often see it.
For someone who claimed to have grown up using the train, you forget that the train you used growing up is completely different to the dilapidated system many of us are faced with today.
Overcrowding, constant uninformed delays, and worse – if you’re travelling using the Metrorail, you’re most likely to even plan for the delay, which is a sad reality for most mothers and fathers who live a life mostly spent on the road home or to work.
In some instances, it’s a miracle when one arrives at work on time, which is most likely two hours away if you’re train bound.
It’s always surprisingly humorous when officials come out and shift the blame. Prasa, after blaming the train delays on a brick, rock, stone – we just don’t even know anymore – as the reason for the backlog in delays, claimed thugs are also to blame.
Prasa spokesperson Sipho Sithole blamed the ongoing attack on the rail’s infrastructure by thugs. He said copper cable was often stolen and sold for profit. With all due respect sir, with the state most train stations are in, it makes it very easy for people to walk away with items that belong to them since there is no security. If you have ever used your Metrorail, you would realise that the ticket examiners are very special people. I’ll send you a video one day during lunch if you want.
Our trains are a mess; this is the reality. When I buy a ticket, I expect to get what I paid for. Is this so hard to understand? This is the reality of most who commute from Mabopane, Atteridgeville, Pretoria, Spings, Kempton Park, Germiston or any other far-away place.
Enough excuses, Mr President.
We are, however, sorry that you had to endure the long hours in aircon-less coaches, which made you miss your meetings. I personally know around 12 people who unfortunately lost their jobs because of what you experienced yesterday.
We commuters apologise for the delay and hope that when you have time, you’ll come again and experience something different.