Frustrated – one of a few choice words that can be used to describe Cape Town commuters this morning. This, after at least 10 Metrorail carriages were destroyed at the Cape Town Station by suspected arsonists over the weekend. The rail operator’s Riana Scott says no one was injured as a result of the fire on two trains, but disruptions to Metrorail services can be expected as a result.

Police are apparently investigating the incident, but one has to wonder about what this has in connection with a failed strike attempt by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) last week.

One also has to wonder about how poor Metrorail’s security operations are to allow for the burning of two trains in the middle of the busiest train station in the city. This wasn’t a chance fire on an isolated piece of track out in the Cape Winelands, this can only be described as an orchestrated attack on the main rail transport hub of Cape Town?

And what is the City of Cape Town doing to help this situation? No less than 20 train coaches were lost to fire in 2015, so this isn’t the first time arsonists have had their way. We’re continuously hearing promises of an integrated transport system that will merge the failing Metrorail services with the ever-growing MyCiti bus network. I realise there are lots of stakeholders involved, and the wheels of bureaucracy turn very, very slowly. But when will enough be enough?

Hundreds of thousands of train commuters now have to make alternative arrangements to get to work; arriving late, receiving warnings from their employers (because you know this isn’t the first time). Is someone going to have to die in an arson-related incident for city authorities to finally take fixing our trains seriously?

I certainly hope not.

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