Metrorail offers R25 000 reward

The damage to the Netreg sub-station.

Metrorail is offering a R25 000 reward for information about criminal activity and vandalism on their property.

The Central line has been out of operation for two weeks, leaving commuters in the lurch.

The line was affected for the first time this year when the Netreg sub-station was vandalised on Tuesday January 2. According to Metrorail spokeswoman Riana Scott this caused the 11KV electricity supply to trip and short-circuit, further damaging the line.

She said the sub-station and relay room needed to be rebuilt.The Central line was then suspended after United National Transport Union (UNTU) members refused to work on the line following the fatal shooting of an armed security escort at Chris Hani train station in Khayelitsha on Tuesday January 9.

As the new school year started last Wednesday, Metrorail planned to have the line up and running but was once again crippled after a test train derailed between Heideveld and Netreg stations.

There had also been cable theft and vandalism at sub-stations in Bonteheuwel and Nyanga.

Metrorail commuters were once again stranded as the company said they had no buses to assist and told commuters to make alternative arrangements.

Metrorail’s regional manager Richard Walker urged the public to continue to report criminal activity.

“Full anonymity of the information sources is guaranteed and a reward of up to R25 000 is payable for any information leading to a conviction,” he said.

Bonteheuwel resident Craig van der Ross who has been using the train for eight years, said he now had to use two taxis to get to work. This costs him over R1 000 a month instead of R160 for a monthly train ticket.

He said he had often been late for work because of delayed and cancelled trains.

“It is very frustrating and it’s affecting our pockets. Nothing is being done about the situation. There are so many robberies on the train, it is not safe but we have to earn our bread and butter. It is not fair, our safety is at risk. I used the train because it was cheaper but now I am forced to use the taxi,” he said.

Asked if commuters would be refunded their tickets, Ms Scott said refunds were made in accordance with PRASA policy and considered on a case by case basis.

In this case, she said, stations were closed and single, return and weekly tickets were not sold to allow commuters to use their cash for alternative transport.

Monthly ticket holders were able to use Golden Arrow buses during off-peak times. When asked what Metrorail had done to vandalism of, and crime on its property, Mr Scott said they condemned the destruction of state assets and urged other stakeholders to also do so.

She said they engaged with police about the Rapid Rail Police Unit and lobbied government on the Criminal Matters Amendment Act which imposes far stricter bail conditions and longer jail time.

They also constructed a wall between Nyanga station and Lansdowne bridge at a cost of R3 million.

“Both sides of the railway line in the high priority triangle Langa-Bontheuwel-Nyanga will now be enclosed at a total cost of R68 million,” she said.

She said they have also taken extra security measures around popular targets such as apparatus cases and points machines in high risk areas. This includes using steel caging.

She said the company called on authorities to close down illegal scrap dealers as there was continuous demand for non-ferrous metals which resulted in theft.

“We are also busy migrating from copper-based to optic fiber technology,” she said.

Report any crime to the Metrorail Protection Services hotline on 021 449 4336/5056.