The weeds are growing waist-high on Eastern Cape train stations

Toilets, basins, light bulbs, doors have been stolen

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

20 January 2021

The weeds are growing waist-high and higher at De Mist train station in Uitenhage. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Toilets are broken and weeds are growing waist-high through the paving at De Mist train station in Uitenhage. The station is one of 11 on the way to Port Elizabeth most of which have been ruined by vandalism and neglected by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) .

“We understand that there is no place to relieve ourselves anymore due to vandalism, but at least a train station must not be like a farm,” said commuter Anathi Mani.

She said the PRASA should urgently fix the station.

“Sometimes we fear that something might pop out of the weeds and trees and bite or chase us all as we wait for a train … This is an eyesore,” said Mani.

Mani, one of hundreds of commuters going to Port Elizabeth to work each day, boards a 7am train.

“We are paying almost R10 to Port Elizabeth a day from Uitenhage but PRASA’s services are poor.”

When GroundUp visited on Tuesday, a security guard who did not want his name mentioned was pulling weeds out of the cracked pavement beside the railway lines at the filthy station.

He said he felt embarrassed at the state of the station. “Train stations have been the hardest hit by lockdown over the past ten months because trains were not operating at all. Toilets are stinking as criminals have ripped off toilet seats, taps, basins and sinks, bulbs, ticket machines, doors … at almost all the stations between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.”

“The guard house that we normally use has been vandalised as well,” he said.

An access controller, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said all the stations, including Uitenhage, De Mist, Cuyler Manor, Despatch, Perseverance, Red House, Swartkops, New Brighton, Sydenham, North End and Port Elizabeth had been affected by massive vandalism.

“New Brighton is worst because the whole shelter under which commuters wait has been stolen. Only Despatch train station has not been vandalised.”

By the time of publication, Eastern Cape PRASA spokesperson Mimi Katsio had not responded to questions sent to her on Tuesday afternoon. Her response will be added when it is received.

Pipes and taps have been stolen from De Mist station in Uitenhage, one of many to have been vandalised during lockdown. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane