The spike in building and transport fires that have plagued the Mother City in the past year are directly linked to protest action, according to the the City of Cape Town. These include the apparent arson attacks that have crippled key commuter service, Metrorail.
Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith said on Sunday, “The building and transport fires are directly linked to the increase in protest action that we’ve witnessed over the past year and include the apparent arson attacks targeting Metrorail.”
The damage caused by the recent spate of train fires amounted to over R50-million and has left Metrorail operating at less than 50% capacity.
There has also been a decline in fires breaking out in informal settlements, with a 50% decrease in shack fires.
“This speaks to a greater awareness around fire safety but, as the fatalities indicate, there is still much work to be done,” Smith said.
Building fires have gone up by nearly 20%, while transport fires increased by 17% in the past financial year – with 781 incidents being reported.
The City also reported that there were a total of 511 fire-related fatalities in Cape Town, and it was revealed that 58% of the fatalities occurred between midnight and 6am.
“We’ve indicated time and again that negligence and substance abuse play a role in a number of fires that our staff respond to. This statistical analysis supports this assertion‚ which means that we will have to further increase our public education and awareness drives,” Smith said.
“However‚ we also appeal to the public to assist us by being more vigilant around flammable materials at all times,” he added.