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Mbalula visits Cape Town train station after 18 carriages torched

The latest fire led to the temporary closure of the station, which was only ever been completely shut down once in the past 20 years.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on 28 November 2019 visited Cape Town Train Station after 18 train carriages were destroyed in a fire. Picture: @MbalulaFikile/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula visited Cape Town Train Station after 18 carriages were destroyed in a fire on Thursday morning. There had been more than 20 train fires in the Western Cape this year.

Mbalula condemned the acts as "an attack on the poor".

Provincial Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela claimed law enforcement officials and national government were failing commuters. The latest fire led to the temporary closure of the station, which was only ever been completely shut down once in the past 20 years.

Madikizela said he couldn’t understand how people responsible for a spate of train fires in recent years still weren’t caught.

“Obviously, this is a syndicate and there is no way that people who are doing this are not known. This is now my third visit to the station [after a fire] since I was appointed in May this year,” he said.

The MEC wanted a meeting with Mbalula to discuss the matter and how they were affecting commuters.

Metrorail said early indications were that an accelerant was used and investigators haven't ruled out the possibility that the fire was started deliberately.

Sections of Cape Town Station were still cordoned off in the afternoon on Thursday with red and white tape as cleaners mop up water and black soot

A limited service was up running at the station.

‘DELIBERATE CAMPAIGN TO SABOTAGE’

Meanwhile, political parties expressed concern over the spate of train fires in the Western Cape.

The secretary-general of Good party and former mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said Metrorail services were suspended on numerous lines over the past few weeks. And at the same time, the City of Cape Town’s MyCiTi N2 Express service stopped operating on 1 June 2019.

Herron said that a well-orchestrated and sinister force was at work to destroy a very essential rail service.

“It is not the first time that trains that have been parked overnight in the city’s main transport hub have been set alight. It seems like we are facing a well-orchestrated and deliberate campaign to sabotage our public transport network. My worry is that nothing seems to be done about it,” he said.

The African National Congress (ANC) in the province condemned the latest train fire. The party called for security to be beefed up, not only at Cape Town Station but also at other vulnerable stations in the province.

“We are utterly shocked and dismayed by this latest fire attack on trains at Cape Town Station. In fact, we feel so strongly about it that we view it as economic sabotage, which is aimed primarily at the poorest of the poor in the Western Cape,” said ANC provincial spokesperson Dennis Cruywagen.

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