Cape Town – Climate and transport activists boarded the “Blue Train” at a kiddies playpark in Mouille Point and hailed it as the “only working train in South Africa”.
This, to emphasise the collapse of commuter rail services in Cape Town and around the country in their call for transformation of the public transport system.
Activists from the youth-led African Climate Alliance (ACA) and commuter activist group, Unite Behind, initiated this protest as part of ACA’s first Cape Town Climate Week, a week of inter-sectional climate action showcasing various practical actions for system change that address climate and socio-economic crises facing South Africa.
The week is to culminate with a march to Parliament for system change on September 24.
ACA youth co-ordinator and programme manager, Gabriel Klaasen, said: “We need our rail system to work, we need transformation from what we have now – a corrupt, unjust and, not working rail service to one that works, is transparent and accountable.
“The fewer vehicles on the road, the fewer emissions we emit and the better it is for our environment. Sadly, without a working train system, many have turned to their cars, private car services, and other forms of transportation. A working train line would not only help with many of the climate injustices we face, but also with the social and economic issues we face.”
Unite Behind head co-ordinator Zukiswa Vuka said the collapse of commuter rail in Cape Town has been a disheartening issue, especially because of the direct impact it has on poor working-class communities now forced to use pricier modes of transport.
Manenberg resident Soraya Samson joined the protest and said: “My son works in Parow. If he could take a train to work, his transport fees would be about R450 a month, but now that he must take a bus and a train, his transport is R1 200.”
Passengers aboard the kiddies train wore face masks of six Members of Parliament whom they believe have led to the collapse of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and should be held to account.
The six included Mosebenzi Zwane, current chairperson of the transport portfolio committee; Joe Maswanganyi, former minister of transport; Dikeledi Magazi, former chairperson of the transport portfolio committee; Sfiso Buthelezi, former chairperson of Prasa; Dipuo Peters, former minister of transport; and current Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.