Metrorail in spotlight over poor CT train service

Survey's respondents believe Metrorail’s situation is worse now than it was a year ago.

FILE: A Metrorail train. Picture: Giovanna Gerbi/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry is planning to meet with Metrorail bosses soon to discuss the rail company's many problems.

This weekend, the chamber released the results of a survey on the impact of poor train services on business.

Ninety-two percent of the survey's respondents believe Metrorail’s situation is worse now than it was a year ago.

Chamber president Janine Myburgh says: “We interact with them regularly. There is a scheduled meeting with Metrorail and we will take up these issues with them.”

Metrorail says it’s losing at least 70 train carriages a month due to vandalism. Eighteen vandalism suspects have been arrested over the past eight weeks.

Services are often crippled as a result of vandalism and copper cable theft.

However, the City of Cape Town last week announced it's strengthened its fight against copper theft, by familiarising its metal theft unit (MTU) with a new law.

It's the job of the MTU to locate and arrest these suspects, but they've had to work with a very limited law enforcement capacity.

Earlier this year, the national police commissioner extended the power of groups like the MTU to enforce the Second-Hand Goods Act, which means they may now conduct search and seizure operations on private properties.

The city's JP Smith says that the unit has successfully completed its training on how to use these new-found powers.

“The Criminal Matters Amendment Act has given us some hope because it allows for sentences of up to 30 years for people convicted of tampering with essential infrastructure. The additional powers under the Second-Hand Goods Act will also allow our staff to act more decisively against scrap dealers.”

Additional reporting by Lauren Isaacs and Eduard de Kock.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)