South African Transport Minister ,Mbalula Fikile has attributed incessant burning of trains in the Cape area as the handiwork of corrupt forces seeking to blackmail rail authority in the country.
In a series of tweets after a visit to the site of the arson,the Minister said “some of these acts of criminality are staged in order to force PRASA’s hand to continue with an arrangement that was not only found irregular by the Auditor-General and the Public Protector, but one that has exposed PRASA to inside jobs.
“The burning of trains is violent and is an attack to the poor. We must all join in and condemn the acts of damage to services that help the most vulnerable amongst us to get to work and their homes.
“We call upon organs of civil society, which include organisations like United Commuters’ Voice and #Unite Behind and many others, to champion the campaign against criminality in our railways. The duty to improve our commuter rail service is a collective one”,the minister appealed.
It would be recalled that a number of motor coaches and passenger coaches were destroyed in a fire at the Cape Town Railway Station in the early hours of Thursday morning.
According to Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson of Cape Town Fire and Rescue, the City’s Fire and Rescue Service responded to the fires at 02:20 on Thursday.
“The first arriving crews from Roeland Street Fire [Service] confirmed train carriages alight on platforms 9 and 10. Upon further investigation, it was found [there were] fires on platforms 12, 13 and 15 as well and more resources were requested to contain the blaze,” Carelse said.
A number of motor coaches and passenger coaches were destroyed and the fire was extinguished at 04:53.No injuries were reported and the scene was handed over to the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa).The fires have severely affected train services in Cape Town on Thursday morning and left many commuters stranded.
Prasa’s Western Cape regional manager Richard Walker told eNCA that it appeared that the fires had been started deliberately. The cause is being investigated.