Metrorail is a nightmare for everyone

Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Cape Town businesses believe that the city’s commuting problems are a threat to the viability of their businesses and that the stressful conditions on the trains are affecting the mental health and morale of 94 percent of their staff.

This emerged from a survey of its members by the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

We knew the situation was bad but the survey reveals it is even worse than we thought.

Conditions on Metrorail trains have become a nightmare, and employers tell of staff arriving at work in tears and leaving for home with fear in their eyes.

The survey revealed that 92 percent of businesses believe that the Metrorail situation is worse than it was a year ago with 71 percent saying it is much worse.

About 20 percent of the respondents said they had even considered relocating their businesses to reduce commuting problems.

Eighty percent of respondents said their employees had been robbed and assaulted on the trains during the past 12 months.

The effect on industrial relations has been drastic with 77 percent of businesses reporting that their industrial relations situation has worsened and 38 percent reporting that it is much worse.

In response to the question “Do you think Metrorail has the capacity or the will to overcome these problems?” 83 percent said a resounding “No”.

Businesses have gone out of their way to help with 41 percent changing starting times to make it easier for staff, 34 percent have introduced flexitime and nine percent are allowing staff to work from home.

The one bright spot in the survey was that 12.7 percent of respondents said that public transport had improved with MyCiTi singled out for some warm praise.

The comments attached to the replies paint an even grimmer picture. Groping and fondling of both men and women (especially students) on the overcrowded trains is rife and people arrive at work too stressed to concentrate.

Educational institutions and students have been especially hard hit with both lecturers and students arriving late for classes and exams. Absentee rates have increased and students have been unable to write exams. This has led to a decline in standards and there are now fears that these disruptions will have a long-term effect on skills development and careers.

Businesses are losing money and employees are working shorter days and this reduces their pay packets while hope for an improvement in the situation is fading.