About 300 furious commuters once again hijacked a train of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), forcing the train driver and the metro guard to deviate from their route to take them to Durban in KwaZulu-Natal because there were no other trains available.
Rajdeo Seebruth, a train driver of the United National Transport Union (UNTU), told Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, that he was petrified when commuters on train 9724 threatened to assault him and the metro guard, Numsani Apanna, if he did not continue from Duffs Road Station to Dalbridge Station in Durban.
He was supposed to return from Duffs Road Station to Bridge City Station when the commuters surrounded the train crew at about 06:20 on Friday 19 January 2018.
“They were furious because there were no trains. I managed to get hold of the train control officer and he authorised me to continue to Durban and secured the route so that we could continue,” Seebruth told Harris.
He has been a train driver for the past five years. “It is very difficult. The situation is getting worse every day due to the shortage of trains,” Seebruth told Harris.
According to Apanna, they had no alternative but to co-operate with the commuters because they were very agitated.
At about the same time UNTU train driver, Ugen Govender, was forced to drive through sleepers placed on the railway line at Shakakraal in iLembe on the North Coast after furious commuters also tried to hijack his train due to a shortage of trains.
Govender, who has been a train driver for 11 years, told Harris he knew that he would be forced under duress to deviate from his route if he stopped. There was no Prasa security officials nearby to assist him.
Harris says the same happened on 19 December 2017 in Pretoria when commuters hijacked two trains at the Hercules Station after they blocked the railway tracks with concrete blocks to force the train drivers to continue to Saulsville instead of returning to Koedoespoort.
“We cannot allow this to continue and we call upon Prasa and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to implement the same increased security measures implemented on the notorious Central Line between Cape Town and Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, to also be implemented throughout the rest of the country.
“Every time a train is hijacked, it creates a life-threatening situation for the train crew and the commuters. The train driver is blind as he or she has no idea whether another train will be travelling on the same route. An accident is bound to happen, and lives will be lost,” says Harris.
For more information phone Harris on 082 566 5516.
Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Media and Liaison Officer. For UNTU Press Statements phone 082 463 6806 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media and Liaison Officer