Public Protector to probe Metrorail in the Western Cape

The Public Protector is expected to probe alleged mismanagement by Metrorail in the Western Cape, after complaints were highlighted by the provincial legislature's standing committee on transport and public works.

Committee chairperson Nceba Hinana last week wrote a letter to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in which he raised concerns about inadequate infrastructure, safety, delays and cancellations.

This followed a series of attacks on trains, with at least three recent train torchings and one botched attempt recorded.

In July, 32 coaches were damaged as a result of arson. The damage caused to trains and infrastructure came to more than R50m.

READ: INFOGRAPHIC: 32 train coaches damaged by arson in July alone - Metrorail

Only one arrest has been made in connection to the suspected sabotage, when a 24-year-old man was caught as he attempted to flee, after allegedly trying to start a fire on a stationary train in Cape Town station.

The motive behind the attacks remain unclear.

Hinana said in his letter that unreliable train services put extra pressure on bus services, private taxis and an "embattled" minibus taxi sector.

"Metrorail’s reliability is intensifying traffic, as individuals are increasingly using their own transportation," he said.

ALSO READ: Cape Town rail transport 'situation' the worst in the country - Nzimande

The Public Protector's office responded to the letter on Thursday, in which Oupa Segalwe noted the request for an investigation.

"Your complaint will be allocated to the Western Cape office. The provincial representative will assign the case to a senior investigator for investigation," Segalwe stated.

Hinana welcomed the swift response and called for the investigation to be given priority.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said they respected any process of investigation.

"There is nothing to hide and the region will co-operate with the Public Protector’s Office. The reasons contributing to current levels of performance have been shared in the media and with a number variety of stakeholders."

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