Metrorail strike causes transport chaos



April 18, 2016
Metrorail strike causes transport chaos

STRANDED: Vandalism has affected train service. CREDIT: Leon Knipe

Metrorail has been hit by a series of arson and vandalism attacks this month.

A strike by Metrorail staff has turned criminal, says the railway service provider.

This after trains were brought to a standstill on Friday because of several acts of vandalism.

Amid the chaos, Golden Arrow and the City of Cape Town will be deploying buses to ease traffic congestion this week.

Buses will be added to the N2 Express route between Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and the city.

Last Thursday night, a train was set alight in Kraaifontein, damaging four carriages, and on Friday an apparatus case was set alight in Philippi while cables were stolen at Salt River.

As commuters struggled to get out of the city on Friday, another train was set alight on Esplanade after 6pm. This follows last Saturday’s fire where two trains were torched at Cape Town station.

Metrorail’s regional manager, Richard Walker, is calling it a siege and blames striking SA Transport Workers Union (Satawu) workers.

“We have been granted another interdict, this time to prevent further intimidation of staff and to prevent illegal strikers from entering our premises or gathering in groups.”

He warned: “We will summarily dismiss any employee who contravenes company policy or a court order. It is time to rid the region of criminals who masquerade as employees.”

But Satawu spokesman Luntu Sokuthu says: “We had warned about charging people and suspending them [if they took part in strike action] and they didn’t listen and look what happened. But we as Satawu do not take responsibility for what happened.

“Our strike was postponed after the court interdict, there is no strike going on until April 20, when we can challenge the interim order. Right now they are just making claims they don’t understand which could land them in trouble if we chose to go to court.

“Their responsibility is to make sure their trains are protected, their drivers and commuters are safe but that is not happening so they are failing in their duties and looking for people to blame.”

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