Sus­pended train ser­vice hits com­muters’ pock­ets hard

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MODIEGI MASHAMAITE

PROTESTS over ser­vice de­liv­ery have re­sulted in Metro­rail not op­er­at­ing the Vereenig­ing-Joburg route for more than two months, leav­ing many com­muters frus­trated and pay­ing R60 a day to travel to and from work.

Some frus­trated com­muters yes­ter­day said they feel like the ser­vice de­liv­ery protest is pun­ish­ing them for is­sues be­yond their con­trol.

Last month, fu­ri­ous res­i­dents of an in­for­mal set­tle­ment in Vereenig­ing block­aded a rail­way line in the area with rocks while demon­strat­ing over housing.

A 17-year-old boy was gunned down, a Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) se­cu­rity guard was killed and a preg­nant woman was wounded dur­ing the vi­o­lent protest over housing.

Al­though the protests have ended, Metro­rail has not lifted its sus­pen­sion of ser­vices.

Prasa se­nior mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Lil­lian Mo­fo­keng said it was un­for­tu­nate the protests had forced the sus­pen­sion of Metro­rail op­er­a­tions.

“There were ser­vice de­liv­ery protests that un­for­tu­nately led and re­sulted in Metro­rail’s op­er­a­tions be­ing sus­pended in the area with im­me­di­ate ef­fect,” she said.

Frus­trated com­muter Alice Se­boka said they had to re­sort to routes far from where they live to get trans­port to work.

“We have to walk from Jo­han­nes­burg to Vereenig­ing to get taxis.”

She added that the sus­pen­sion of Metro­rail ser­vices had re­sulted in ex­tra costs for com­muters and that they couldn’t af­ford to spend money they didn’t have.

“A monthly train ticket costs me R235 and now I have to get two taxis in the morn­ing and two in the af­ter­noon, cost­ing R60 a day. My monthly to­tal has shot up to R1 440. This is more than 35% of my salary. Some­times I don’t have money for rent or food.”

An­other com­muter, Julius Le­faso, also ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment over the de­lay in re­sum­ing ser­vices.

“Even if there are trains, they some­times come late and there is no se­cu­rity,” he said.

Ward 58 com­mit­tee mem­ber Abeda Bam­jee said the sus­pen­sion was af­fect­ing her busi­ness and she had been email­ing nu­mer­ous peo­ple from the trans­port ser­vice.

“Their response shows their lack of care at the public ser­vice they ren­der. That is why they are em­bark­ing on col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment for thou­sands of com­muters.”

Thabisang Le­beoe of Metro­rail cus­tomer ser­vices said two sta­tions were van­dalised dur­ing the protests.

“We can­not of­fer buses for com­muters be­cause they will van­dalise them like they are do­ing to our trains. More­over, the buses are not ours, there­fore that would in­cur ad­di­tional costs for us.”

Gauteng Roads and Trans­port De­part­ment sec­re­tary Sofia Yusuf spoke on be­half of the MEC, Is­mail Vadi, and said he wasn’t aware that the is­sue had es­ca­lated into the sus­pen­sion of trains.

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