Train commuters travelling from Vereeniging to Johannesburg were again on Tuesday forced to seek alternative routes after Metrorail services were temporarily suspended on parts of the corridor in question.
This after disgruntled residents from Boiketlong informal settlement in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg took to the streets on Monday night, demanding service delivery. This is the second time in a space of two weeks, that residents embark on a protest.
Two police nyalas (armoured vehicles), and other police vehicles have been stationed in the area next to a railway bridge, monitoring the protest. The main road, leading out of the informal settlement towards Vereeniging has been completely barricaded with rocks and rubble. Meanwhile Metrorail said the suspension is regrettable.
“The situation worsened where the behaviour of the community protesters has rendered the provision of a safe commuter rail service unsafe by placing foreign objects on the railway tracks and burning rubble to force the movement of trains to a halt.
“The protestors always assemble at the Houtheuwel bridge and block the railway lines stopping trains not to go through hence the decision to turn trains at Residentia.”
The trains from Johannesburg will turnaround at Residentia station.
“The line will be closely monitored to ensure the safety of Metrorail employees, commuters and assets in this corridor. Only when the unruly behaviour of the community has stopped, Metrorail will review the operational decision accordingly to lift the suspension.
“We take the safety of our employees, assets and commuters very seriously and condemn in the strongest possible terms any acts of sabotage to the train service. We appeal to the community to take full ownership of the assets that are meant for them as this suspension of service will end up inconveniencing the majority of our loyal customers who can only afford the rail service for their economic activities.
“We are grateful of the support from the public and law enforcement authorities who are protecting our assets, employees and commuters,” Metrorail provincial manager Tembela Kulu said.