29 July 2019

Metrorail’s demise is catastrophic and impossible to understand.


29 July 2019

I welcome the decision by former PRASA Group CEO, Lucky Montana, to testify before the Zondo Commision in State Capture Enquiry

Metrorail’s demise is catastrophic and impossible to understand.

South Africans need a pinpoint explanation from Montana so that we can urgently fix our trains. Metrorail, our commuter rail service and the backbone of every city’s public transport network, has appeared neglected and abandoned by PRASA Management as it has declined to a point of almost no return.

A myriad of operational and management failures, and the inexplicable burning of train sets, has left hundreds of thousands of commuters displaced to road-based public transport.

Many meetings, many imbizos, many promises have failed to arrest the decline of Metrorail. At times it has been impossible to fathom some of the events that have occurred – like the destruction of train sets, set alight whilst parked overnight in the security guarded Cape Town station.

It has been deeply frustrating to witness the collapse of the rail service in the Cape Town region. Throughout my term of office as Mayoral Committee Member for Transport in the City of Cape Town I had the constant impression that there was some undisclosed force behind the service’s demise and the destruction of the trains.

I worked with the region’s management over a period of nearly 8 years to find solutions and interventions to save our trains. After years of talks, where everyone was in agreement but nothing came of it, I eventually hosted a Rail Crisis Summit in February 2018 to get a Rail Law

Enforcement unit finally signed, sealed and delivered. This unit was launched in October last year and has been successful in arresting some of the criminal elements that have tormented rail passengers.

Lucky Montana’s decision to testify to the Zondo Commission gives me some hope that we will finally fully understand who and what have been the causes of the demise of Metrorail.

If he is able to pinpoint where the rot lies and if he can point us to the criminals who are behind the sabotage of the service we may have a fighting chance of saving Metrorail before it collapses irreparably.

The service is close to complete and absolute collapse. Montana’s testimony must help us arrest this collapse. I hold on to a slim sliver of hope that he will help us save our train service and give us the space to rehabilitate and restore the Metrorail to a service that functions again.

I look forward to his evidence. I ask that he acts in the interests South Africa and not a faction of any political party and shares what he knows – warts and all.