Untu calls on Mbalula to put the brakes on trains until April

Untu calls on Mbalula to put the brakes on trains until April

A Prasa Metrorail train near Langlaagte station in Johannesburg, 4 February 2020. Picture Neil McCartney

Harris outlined that it was the poorest of the poor who used the trains that could suffer the most.

The United National Transport Union (Untu) has called for the suspension of train services as a measure to derail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The union argues there are between 300 and 400 commuters on trains during peak hour, and they are in some cases crammed into carriages, a clear violation that goes against the health department’s calls against the gathering of more than 100 people.

Untu’s Steve Harris outlined it was the poorest of the poor who used the trains, and while Prasa initially planned to provide operational staff with face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers, these were subject to availability.

He reportedly said Prasa had woken up too late, and it was the people who would suffer. The union urged Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to pause train services until April 14.

“Prasa doesn’t have the ability or the funds. They woke up too late and we expect our people to work under these conditions.”

While Prasa and Transnet had responded with action at corporate level, Harris said, there was little to poor implementation at operational levels, which meant the pandemic would have a devastating impact on commuters.

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