Residents lambast public transport providers

Residents gathered at Kuyasa primary school to air their concerns.

Khayelitsha residents said they have had enough of the poor public transport servicing the township, particularly trains.

This emerged at the Public Transport Voice (PTV) public gathering, at Kuyasa Primary School, in Khayelitsha, on Saturday November 12.

The meeting was attended by representatives of Golden Arrow Buses, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA ) and the City of Cape Town. It focused on various challenges including the lack of security trains.

Participants lambasted Prasa over their poor communication, saying that when trains stopped in the middle of nowhere, commuters were not told what was going on.

They also complained that the MyCiTi bus stops were far from houses, while Golden Arrow Bus Services came under attack for constantly increasing fares.

One fuming resident, who refused to be named, said she had been on-board a train from Cape Town station to Khayelitsha station in 2001, around 7pm, when five criminals entered the train at Langa station and robbed her and passengers of their belongings. When the train reached Bonteheuwel station, she said the criminals tried to jump out but she took out her firearm and shot one of them.

She claimed security guards at the station and some of the senior staff at Cape Town station mistreated her even though she had acted in self-defence.

“Luckily the criminal did not die. Since then I made a vow that I would never again travel by train.

“The incident left me traumatised and I spent the night at the police station and left the following day.

“That was the last day for me to use the train,” she said.

PTV spokesperson Dalton Ndongeni said they were appealing to Metrorail and the other state-owned companies to improve their services. He said as an organisation, they were calling on the government to build an integrated public transport system.

He said the biggest challenge with Metrorail was reliability and punctuality.

He added that some communities were not able to access the buses because they did not run through their areas.

“We are happy that the representatives from the different entities heeded our call,” he said. He criticised Metrorail for failing to act against dagga smokers on the carriages.

He said one train was a home for dagga smokers for years and nothing was done to remedy the situation.

“We are pleading with Metrorail to deploy police on their trains. We are also calling for a coach which would be solely dedicated for pupils and have desk inside the coach so that the pupils could to do their school work,” he said. Metrorail regional manager, Richard Walker, , admitted they faced enormous challenges.

However, he argued that vandalism, cable theft and illegal electricity connections derailed their efforts to provide a good service in Khayelitsha. He agreed that overcrowding remained a major concern.

However, he said, they were making some inroads, adding that they have installed CCTV cameras on all the central line stations.

“Between 2019 and 2020 we are expecting to receive 11 new trains but the overall number of the trains that we will receive will be 35, but we won’t receive all of them at the same time.

“We are also working around the clock to speed up the repairing of broken or damaged trains.

“Previously our trains had a maximum of 12 coaches per train but that number has gone down to eight coaches a train due to vandalism,” he said.

He added that they have engaged with the City and SAPS to improve the visibility of police officers at the stations and on the trains.

Representative of City of Cape Town Department of Transport Steven Otter assured residents that they were working tireless to build an integrated public transport system but could not happen overnight.

He promised them that he would inform the relevant authorities about the issue of MyCiti bus stops being too faraway.