Thu. Jul 18th, 2019

Cape Town train fire: One suspect arrested for arson

cape town train firePRASA announced that it had lost R636 million due to train fires since 2015.

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One suspect has been arrested in connection with a
devastating Cape Town train fire which gutted carriages on Sunday.

Cape Town Central train station was engulfed by flames and pandemonium on Sunday afternoon when a MetroRail train, stopped at Platform 19, was set ablaze. Emergency services rushed to the scene but were unable to prevent the fire from spreading to another arriving train. At least two carriages were completely destroyed by the blaze, with the cost of damages estimated to exceed R30 million.

One suspect arrested, one still at large

The latest arson attack comes after months of silence.
Improved security measures, undertaken by the City of Cape Town in
collaboration with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and MetroRail,
managed to curb the scourge of train fires which embattled the metro in 2018.

With MetroRail’s fleet only just starting to recover from
last year’s disasters, Sunday’s attack comes as a setback to operational
sustainability and commuter safety.

The difference between the latest attack and those experienced in 2018, is that recent upgrades in Cape Town central’s CCTV system have netted law enforcement a suspect.

The arrest of a 30-year-old man from Khayelitsha, who has been identified as the possible fire starter, is a major breakthrough for law enforcement agencies and rail stakeholders, which have voiced concerns about the attacks, arguing that the wanton destruction of infrastructure has been the result of organised crime syndicates or political plots.

The cost of Cape Town train fires

According to  Western
Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant, the compounded attacks on the Cape’s MetroRail
services led to a major decline in operational capacity. This, in turn, forced commuters
onto the roads, which led to a noticeable strain on the City’s traffic
services.

PRASA announced that it had lost R636 million due to train
fires since 2015.

According to Grant, one suspect, who managed to evade law enforcement,
is still at large. The other suspect is expected to appear in court on charges
of malicious damage to property.

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