The various trains around the country seem to be crumbling along with Prasa and all the rail infrastructure. We take a look at just how bad things are regarding our country’s trains.
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is well and truly in dire straits. There have been three crashes in the last few weeks which have seen multiple dead and hundreds injured. There has been mass outages and entire routes unable to function in the Western Cape. And now, drivers across the country are also being threatened while trying to do their job.
The latest shocking train incident comes as News24 released audio of a telephone call from December where a Johannesburg driver can be heard frantically trying to get permission to get his train moving again. The driver can be repeatedly heard telling the operator that his head is bleeding as angry commuters threw a stone at him. At one point during the call, commuters can be heard shouting “we are going to burn you!” as they banged on his door.
“Hello, ma’am. They throw me against the head with a stone. Please get this train moving. They [are] gonna burn this train now. Please. Please ma’am, please,” the man begged on the call.
The driver eventually received a manual authorisation to move, he then told the control room that he is taking the train to Joburg and leaving it there – “ I’m not coming back. I’m not. Okay. Shap.”
Drivers in Cape Town are terrified too, the murder of a security guard last week sent drivers into overdrive as many refused to drive the central line unless their safety can be guaranteed. The line has been closed for three days in a row as vandalism and theft leave the lines unusable. The central line was originally meant to reopen on Thursday but a train derailed on the line during a test on Wednesday evening.
Destruction and vandalism of substations have gotten so bad in some of the areas along the central line that Metrorail has raised talk of building a 20km wall that would stand at over 10 feet high.
Prasa has said they are doing all they can to remedy the situation. Even going as far as saying that no other rail agency in the world has to operate under such conditions. For now, though, thousands have no way to get to work and drivers are left terrified and fearing for their life.