Chamber counts cost of Metrorail arson attacks

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The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is doing all it can to accommodate employees arriving late for work as a result of arson attacks on Metrorail property.

This follows Cosatu threatening to down tools at companies who are firing workers or docking their salaries because they are constantly late.

The chamber’s chairwoman Janine Myburgh told Independent Media that businesses had been hard hit by the attacks. The local economy had lost about three quarters of a million man-hours following all trains running two hours late on just one day.

“In addition the extra congestion on the roads made many others late for work. That is a huge loss and it is for only one day. Late trains seem to be part of the new normal so the losses over a year must be staggering. Many, many millions of rands,” she said on Wednesday.

“Sometimes they have to pay overtime rates to get work done to meet urgent orders. There are social costs, too, as parents arrive home a couple of hours late. That can affect meals and even homework. It can mean leaving children alone and vulnerable,” said Myburgh.

Earlier in the day Western Cape Cosatu general secretary Tony Ehrenreich accused bosses of showing no remorse.

He also said that alternative transport arrangements had to be made to help workers be on time.

“We demand that the public transport be put into the areas that need them most, first given the present and ongoing crisis. The busses that presently operate in Milnerton and Camps Bay should be moved to the Cape Flats as a matter of urgency, as Camps Bay people have private transport now,” Ehrenreich said.

Myburgh agreed that the transport system had to be jacked up, decrying the current situation as a “civic emergency”.

“We must see it as a Cape Town’s public transport problem. The city council has done a good job in building up bus transport and the chamber would like to see the city become more involved in rail transport. The key thing is that we have to work together much better than we are now,” she said.

Western Cape MEC for transport and public works Donald Grant has condemned the acts of vandalism and arson.

“The thousands of commuters that rely on public transport daily must not be held ransom by the actions of a few criminals who have a brazen disregard for the law and the needs of others,” he said.

Labour Bureau

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