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Untu calls for suspension of train services

Untu's Steve Harris said while Prasa and Transnet responded on corporate levels, there had been very poor implementation on operational levels.

Cape Town train station. Picture: @CapeTownTrains/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN – The United National Transport Union (Untu) is calling for the suspension of train services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The union wants Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to put the brakes on services until 14 April.

A few days ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a ban on group gatherings of more than 100 people.

But Untu points out the daily reality is that there are between 300 and 400 commuters on trains and during peak hours, people are crammed into a carriage.

Untu's Steve Harris said while Prasa and Transnet responded on corporate levels, there had been very poor implementation on operational levels.

“The poorest of the poor use these trains and this is where Untu members and commuters are most exposed."

He adds that Prasa initially planned to provide operational staff with facial masks, gloves and hand sanitisers, but it was subject to availability due to national shortage.

“Prasa doesn’t have the ability or the funds. They woke up too late and we expect our people to work under these conditions.”

Harris said the virus would have a devastating impact on commuters and the transmission rate of the virus warranted drastic action.

TRANSNET IMPLEMENTS MEASURES TO STOP SPREAD

Transnet has started implementing new regulations in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus through the country's sea ports.

Mbalula has banned recreational sea-travel.

This comes as the country continues to experience a surge in coronavirus cases, which now stand at 116.

Mbalula has prohibited crew member changes in the ports of Saldanha and Mossel Bay indefinitely.

However, Transnet’s Dennis Mqadi said this would be implemented across the board to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Mqadi said no citizen would be allowed to disembark from the country's seaports and no foreign national would be allowed in.

He said the new regulations did not mean that the country's ports had been closed entirely as all commercial cargo transportation operations were still taking place.

WATCH: Santaco rolls out hygiene programme at taxi ranks

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.