COSATU demands government and PRASA fix Metrorail

Hundreds marched in Cape Town on Thursday

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Photo of protesters
COSATU protested in Cape Town on Thursday demanding that government take urgent action to fix the train and transport system in the province. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

Hundreds of people marched in Cape Town on Thursday demanding that government take urgent action to fix the train and transport system in the Western Cape.

The protest was organised by COSATU. The March was also supported by the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) and #UniteBehind. Protesters held placards that read: “PRASA fix our trains”.

A memorandum was delivered to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), and the Western Cape and national governments.

COSATU said it has approached the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) in 2018 for a protected strike, but it had reached a deadlock.

COSATU is demanding that the cost of the train tickets be reduced by 50% until such time as trains are fully operational.

“The Central line has not been running for long periods with no clear indication when the line will be fully operational. This line is the most popular in the Western Cape … There is a clear lack of cooperation between the provincial and national management. The City of Cape Town is making no effort to let the MyCiti buses assist with the overflow of commuters,” read the memorandum.

COSATU wants visible security with 12 guards to be deployed at all stations. It also wants the City to deploy more law enforcement officers on trains and at stations.

COSATU wants the government intelligence services to develop a plan to respond to vandalism to train infrastructure, the burning of trains and to deal with the problem of unregulated taxis.

PRASA’s recently appointed Western Cape Regional manager Raymond Maseko received the memorandum. Addressing the protesters he said COSATU’s demands were “fair, legit and reasonable”.

He apologised to the commuters. “We are sorry we should not have kept you waiting. We have a plan to recover the … Central line. We are consulting with communities, the national government and the City.”

PRASA will give written feedback within the 14 day period it has been given to respond.

Siyamcela Yakola, who lives in Gugulethu and works in Cape Town, joined the march. He said that since the Central line was suspended he wakes up at 4am, but he still arrives at work late.

“I don’t have family time anymore. My time is lost in heavy traffic. Instead of R175 monthly Metrorail ticket, now I use R50 a day for transport – R8 for a taxi to the taxi rank, then R17 to town. I now use R1,000 on transport every month.”

On Wednesday, #UniteBehind in support of the COSATU protest said: “Our rail system has deteriorated drastically over the last decade due to corruption and maladministration at PRASA. Trains are often late or cancelled, unsafe, and overcrowded. Workers who rely on trains receive warnings, fines, and lose jobs for latecoming. Learners sometimes miss tests and exams because of the dysfunctional commuter rail system. A properly functioning commuter rail system is crucial to building the economy.”

TOPICS:  Cosatu Prasa / Metrorail Transport

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Dear Editor

PRASA's management is not skilled to take the company to what it used to be. The will and the know-how are just not there. The thing is: wrong people are occupying managerial positions. The word of the man on the ground is not listened to. Can anyone say why the messed up signaling system rolled out in the whole of the Western Cape, even though management saw that it was a total failure initially? Security personnel will never solve the problem of vandalism, arson, cable theft and passenger related accidents. It's just impossible. Why can't the department invest in the erection of walls along the tracks, once and for all? PRASA is faced with huge problems. Speak to the junior employees and you will hear. Ask them what do they think are the solutions for PRASA and you will get sensible responses.

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