Premier Zille Condemns Sabotage of Rail Infrastructure
Premier Helen Zille has welcomed the arrest of a suspect in connection with yet another attempt to set a train alight at Cape Town station yesterday. The Premier’s comments were made during a radio interview with John Maythem on Cape Talk today.
A man was arrested by the South African Police, working closely with the station’s security guards, as he tried to flee the station after setting alight the seats in a train carriage. The arson attack followed the pattern or previous attacks, but police have not yet been able to say whether the suspect can be connected with similar acts of arson and sabotage.
He is currently being interrogated by Crime Intelligence.
The train arsonists are believed to have been hired by a third party who have an interest in the resultant disruption. “Yesterday’s arrest is a breakthrough and offers an opportunity to identify who is responsible for hiring people to commit arson on our trains,” the Premier said.
There have been three similar attacks on trains during the past week, six during the past two months, and 28 this year so far, and 32 in 2017.
“Prasa requires 88 train sets to run an effective service. Currently, due to arson, cable theft, and vandalism, the available sets are down to 40. As a result, the number of commuters using trains continues to drop, (having almost halved since 2000). This is a major cause of traffic congestion on our roads, and public inconvenience which, in turn, has a seriously negative effect on our economy,” the Premier said.
“This is serious economic sabotage that threatens to bring our public transport system to a halt. We welcome the arrest, and we hope this will lead to the organised criminal interests behind these arson attacks being exposed,” said Premier Helen Zille.
It remained necessary for the army to be deployed to ensure that critical rail infrastructure and trains in the Western Cape are protected.
Although Metrorail is the sole responsibility of the National Government, the provincial Public Works and Transport Department recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PRASA and the City of Cape Town. The Province allocated R16 million to improve Metrorail’s security measures.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant said: “Following our productive engagement with the National Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande, I remain optimistic that continued cooperation between all spheres of government can yield positive results and see sustainable solutions that may curb future attacks.”
“My department remains committed to working with PRASA, the National Department of Transport, and the City of Cape Town in formulating these solutions for the benefit of the thousands of Cape commuters that rely on this essential service on a daily basis,” said Minister Grant.