Train fires derailing economy

Janine Myburgh, president, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The failing commuter rail system in Cape Town had become a major threat to the local economy and it is now time for drastic measures.

There is a pattern to the arson attacks on trains and we must ask why and who is behind it. Who can possibly gain from this destruction? We need criminal intelligence so that we can go after the organisers and chop off the head of this monster.

There should be many people who were in a position to provide vital information. They may be passengers, union members or other criminals. We don’t know but we must start pressing for their information.

We also need to talk to people like the scrap merchants because they may well have vital information. They know and understand the scrap industry and how it works so they are the people most likely to have useful infor-mation. I appeal to them to come forward and help us save our trains.

Earlier this year the Cape Chamber conducted a survey of its members to find out how the ongoing crisis was affecting business. More than 86% of respondents said the situation threatened the sustainability of their businesses. Since then the situation has got worse and losses to the local economy must run to many million rands a month.

The estimated costs of the recent attacks ranges between
R30 million and R50 million.

There are also human costs. 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.

Anybody with information about the fires should call the Railway Police on 021 443 4325.