Metrorail/The South African

Union calls on members to protest against unsafe rail conditions

Transport Union has called on its members to support future protest action for safer trains.


Metrorail/The South African

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) has called on its members and the South African public to support their protest action. UNTU is demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa prioritise the safety and security of the country’s rail system.

The General Secretary of UNTU, Steve Harris, stated that the President is still taking unnecessary risks with the lives of those who the trains.

“The President is gambling with the lives of people. How can he create a dream of bullet trains from Johannesburg to Musina when the South African Police Service (SAPS) cannot even prevent clamps being stolen that is supposed to be holding the sleepers together on the ailing rail system?”

An UNTU affiliated federation, the Federation of Trade Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), has been granted Section 77 protest action certificate in terms of the Labour Relations Act by Nedlac.

“Together we can get Government to improve the poor service provided by Metrorail. Its aged infrastructure, manual signalling and many other aspects that have led to deaths, constant attacks, health and safety hazards and so many arson attacks, that leave both UNTU members, FEDUSA members and the general public reliant on the train services and all other commuters in despair daily basis.”

Protest follows recent derailment

This follows an incident that took place on the morning of 2 July. The incident took place on the Springs to Daveyton route to Johannesburg. Harris claimed that the incident could have been avoided if President Ramaphosa had acted sooner.

The union had repeatedly called for the President to send soldiers from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to protect the rail service.

Harris added that the soldiers from the S would have sped up the long overdue plan to modernise the rail system. Harris was grateful that no-one was injured during the derailment on 2 July.

However, on Sunday 13 June a 13-year-old boy fell to his death from a train. He was on the route from Naledi to Soweto. Harris wished to offer his condolences to the boy’s family.

“His death could have been prevented if the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), the operator of Metrorail, adhered to the judgement of a full bench of the Constitutional Court in 2004. It ruled that the state-owned enterprise were fully accountable for passenger safety. PRASA could be liable for civil and criminal action if they failed in their duty.”

Harris added that PRASA has ignored the 2015 judgement of the Constitutional Court. The judgement forbade trains from moving while doors were open.

“The Court ruled that any operator who allows this to happen is guilty of criminal negligence and must be prosecuted.”