Latest attack on metrorail tatamount to economic sabotage

STATEMENT BY DONALD GRANT
MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND PUBLIC WORKS

The latest arson attacks over the past week on the Metrorail system in Cape Town have caused major disruptions, and left tens of thousands of commuters without their usual mode of transportation on multiple occasions. The most recent attack was carried out last night and saw signalling equipment vandalised, compounding the already strained situation and causing delays in excess of two hours this morning.

These acts must be condemned in the strongest terms by society as a whole. The thousands of commuters that rely on public transport daily must not be held ransom by the actions of a few criminals who have a brazen disregard for the law and the needs of others.

Their acts of sabotage against Metrorail are an attack on the State and its agents. The consequences for these acts must be in line with the severity of the crimes committed. This is the only way to deter would-be perpetrators.

It is suspected that the latest vandalism is linked to illegal strike action stemming from a wage and conditions of service dispute with Metrorail. There is absolutely no justification for such acts of economic sabotage that directly threaten the livelihoods and safety of others.

I urge anyone with information that may lead to the arrest of these criminals to contact the South African Police Services (SAPS) urgently.

I would like to commend Metrorail senior management for the hard work that they have put in throughout the series of attacks, to lessen the effects that these acts have had on commuters. I trust that Metrorail is doing all it can to bring an end to the illegal strike action, and to take decisive action against those that may be implicated in these attacks. My thanks too to the City of Cape Town and Golden Arrow Bus Services for their co-operation and the steps that they have taken to improve the situation.

My department continues to work closely with Metrorail and our other public transport partners to mitigate the disastrous effects of these acts of sabotage. We will continue to provide such assistance where possible, in keeping with our objective to provide safe and reliable public transport in this province.

My Ministry and the Western Cape Government are determined to use whatever means we can to lessen the impact of these cowardly acts on commuters.