On Thursday 14 December 2017
Dec 22, 2017 No Comments ›› Brett HerronI took the Metrorail northern line to experience what the conditions are like for commuters who travel between the northern suburbs and the Cape Town station. Janine Myburgh, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, accompanied us. We departed from the Kraaifontein station shortly after 06:00. The carriage was packed beyond capacity – I did not expect this, given that the schools are closed and some people are already on leave. At one of the stations I was nearly pushed through the open door as desperate men and women were trying to get onto the train while others were trying to get off. It was harrowing, and I may have ended up on the tracks were it not for a young man who pulled me back in. Those making use of Metrorail literally have to fight their way in and out of the carriages every day. Commuting by train in Cape Town is stressful and degrading – you are exhausted once you reach your destination and then you still have to work an eight-hour day. I saw the same frustration, anxiety, fear and desperation this morning as on 30 November when I commuted on the Central line from Khayelitsha to the Cape Town station. Early in the new year I will take senior business leaders with me on Metrorail’s Central line so that they too can see what their employees face. Thereafter we will host a rail dialogue with role-players from the private sector, business leaders, and civil society so that we can work together on a crisis plan and short-term interventions to address the current crisis. We cannot wait while commuters are subjected to these dire and dangerous conditions day after day.