After several train fires and the ensuing lack of efficient operating capacity, the Public Protector has agreed to launch a probe into Metrorail in the Western Cape.
On 30 August, Democratic Alliance member of Parliament and chairperson of the Standing Committee on Transport and Public Works, Nceba Hinana, received a letter from Oupa Segalwe, Acting Executive Manager at the office of the Public Protector, saying that the case would be assigned to a senior investigator.
“After having written a letter to the Public Protector on 29 August 2018, I received a response letter from Mr Oupa Segalwe, acting executive manager at the public protector’s office, on 30 August 2018,” Hinana said to IOL. “His letter stated that the case would be investigated by the Western Cape provincial office of the Public Protector’s office and that it would be assigned to a Senior Investigator.”
The effect of train fires and theft of vital infrastructure has caused the number of commuters who make use of Metrorail’s services to drop by nearly half, as these have caused frequent delays and left inadequate space on trains for commuters.
Hinana added that commuters no longer feel that they can count on trains to get them to their destinations.
“Throughout December 2017, the Central Line, our most used line, was on time only 24.6%. Consequently, there has been a drastic decline in the number of Metrorail users in the Western Cape. In 2014, Metrorail had over 608 000 passengers,” he said. “That number decreased so drastically that by 2017, the number of Metrorail passengers dropped by 41% to just 360 000.”
The City of Cape Town has also recently employed 100 new railway police officers to combat crime around Metrorail’s railway system. The new railway police will begin work by the end of September.