Reports of a massive fire at Athlone train station surfaced on Monday which called for swift action from the City of Cape Town’s firefighters.
The City’s Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse said that the Metrorail ticket office at the railway station was reportedly set alight.
According to IOL, the blame was directed at vagrants who were residing in the desolate building.
“The inside of the building was severely affected by fire, heat and smoke, with the roof sustaining most of the damage. Firefighters who were battling the blaze noticed that a large quantity of rubbish inside the structure had also been set alight. One person, a woman, suffered from smoke inhalation and was treated by the fire service medics but later absconded.
“Fire crews from Salt River and Ottery were able to extinguish at 4.49pm. To us, it appears that someone who stayed in the vacant building set the fire,” Carelse said.
Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott explained that even though the structure had been boarded up, “vagrants managed to break in.”
On the other hand, DA provincial spokesperson on Transport and Public Works, Ricardo Mackenzie had this to say regarding the incident: “This recent incident… shows that Prasa has been unable to assist in the relocation of vagrants and dwellers which inhibit the proper functioning of train services. Right now, there are still around 7 844 dwellings on the Central Line and that number is likely to climb if urgent action is not taken.”
In the same vein, the City’s portfolio committee chairperson for transport, Sub Council Chairperson Angus McKenzie said that more needed to be done to maintain and protect state-owned infrastructure, as News24 reports.