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Authorities call for task team to address Metrorail crisis

Over the past 2 two weeks, the Metrorail service has come under attack with a spate of arson attacks.

FILE. Three Metrorail carriages were set alight at the Cape Town Metrorail station. Picture: Shantel Moses/Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant wants to set up a task team to assess Metrorail's numerous problems.

Over the past two weeks, the rail operator's services have come under attack.

The MEC has labelled a spate of arson attacks on trains in Cape Town as acts of economic sabotage.

More than a dozen train coaches have been deliberately torched, while various other infrastructure has been vandalised, bringing Metrorail services to a virtual standstill across the Western Cape.

Thousands of commuters had to endure delays of up to two hours or more yesterday after another spate of vandalism.

Grant has told Eyewitness News he had appealed to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters two months ago, requesting her to approve a task team for the Western Cape.

"It's been commissioned by the national minister and I am waiting for approval from her then we will put it up into the public domain, but it's a very comprehensive plan dealing with the basics."

Grant says senior Metrorail officials have met with the provincial police commissioner and national intelligence officials to discuss the recent torching and arson of trains.

He adds provincial government officials are providing additional security to assist Metrorail.

Cape Town police say no arrests have been made in connection with the arson and damage to rail infrastructure.

INVESTIGATIONS

Several law enforcement agencies are investigating a spate of attacks on Metrorail's infrastructure.

Commuters have slammed vandals following attacks on the rail operator's services.

"It's unnecessary and it's doing no good. I can't see why they're doing it," one commuter has said.

Another commuter has called on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to increase security at all stations to prevent vandalism.

DELAYS CONTINUE

This morning, several trains are delayed across the city.

Trains travelling on the central line have again been delayed.

Metrorail says trains on the route are running about 40 minutes behind schedule.

At least six signal boxes were set alight earlier this week.

At the same time, hundreds of commuters at Eikenfontein Station in Kraaifontein have accepted they'll be late for work and school this morning, and overcrowded train carriages are the order of the day.

Several commuters could be heard asking each other whether the trains would be late again today.

"We don't know," was the curt response from a ticket conductor when he was asked if training are running on time.

One commuter could be heard telling another "It will most probably be late, you know how it goes with 'metrofail'."

Hundreds of commuters eagerly rushed to get on the 3508 train when it arrived at 7am.

After an intense struggle to board an already overcrowded carriage, with several people even falling out, many commuters have simply given up.

Trains from Wellington and Paarl, however, appear to be running on schedule this morning.

Ticket conductors at the station say trains have been 'more or less' on time this morning.

They however can't say if any trains have been cancelled.

Commuters at the station say while they're dissatisfied with the service, this is the only mode of public transport they can use to get to work.

CONCERNED PARENT

Old Mutual station in Pinelands has also been affected by train delays and cancellations.

The busy junction serves the northern line and is one of the busiest hubs.

Clifford Malgas peered nervously over the railway bridge to where his son Darren was waiting on the platform.

The youngster catches the train daily to Cape Town College but the recent delays have hit the family's pocket.

Malgas explains that even though he has paid for a monthly ticket already, he'd had to fork out extra cash for taxis and petrol because of the cancellations.

Last Friday, his son even missed college because of the chaos on the railway lines.