SATAWU COMMENDS NEW PRASA EXECUTIVES FOR SWIFT ACTION

South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) commends newly appointed executives at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) for the swift manner in which they dealt with problems on the Western Cape’s Central Line last week.

Prasa’s newly appointed acting Group CEO Cromet Molepo and acting CEO of Rail Mthuthuzeli Swartz moved swiftly this week to form a steering committee after a vandalised section on the Central Line caused a test train to derail. The train was testing the line in preparation for re-opening after service was suspended for a week following the murder of a security guard at Chris Hani station, Khanyelitsha.

A day prior to the derailment, Molepo and Swartz had convened a meeting of stakeholders including SA Police Service (Saps), labour unions operating within Prasa, SATAWU and Untu, and other interested parties. In that meeting, stakeholders agreed to restore service to the line which caters for commuters from Khayelitsha, Philippi, Mitchell’s Plain, Bishop Lavis and Langa. As a result of the meeting, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be signed between Prasa and Saps to reintroduce railway police to safeguard commuters, employees and rail infrastructure, Molepo said.

But unbeknownst to those attending the meeting vandals had cut out section of copper wire on the line subsequently causing the test train to derail.

Unruffled, Molepo and Mthuthuzeli went to assess the damage the next day (Thursday) and later held another stakeholders meeting where a steering committee comprising representatives of Prasa, Saps, labour unions and their federations Cosatu and Fedusa, and the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) was formed to address the various challenges facing the rail agency in the Western Cape.

SATAWU commends Molepo and Swartz for putting in place stringent security measures on the line – something SATAWU in the Western Cape has been calling for since 2016. Sadly, our calls fell on deaf ears, as Prasa regional management refused to act even after Saps offered new recruits to reinforce security on the Central Line. To date those new recruits were never assigned to protect the Central Line, which also happens to be the city’s busiest. The recruits were, however, posted on the Southern Line which services the predominantly white affluent suburbs, leaving commuters on the Central Line, which runs along less affluent parts of the city to endure criminality daily.

Given Molepo and Swartz have already set the standard, we expect them to continue delivering. We therefore call on them to address the historical imbalances regional management has so far been happy to perpetuate and ensure that railway police are proportionally assigned based on need.

We also call on Swartz, under whose direct authority rail falls, to address overcrowding on trains.

SATAWU looks forward to working together with these two executives as they continue the hard task of turning Prasa into an entity that provides safe, reliable and affordable transport service to millions of South Africans.

For media queries or to arrange an interview contact:

Jack Mazibuko
Coordinator SATAWU CEC Task Team
+27 51 813 9025

OR

Zanele Sabela
SATAWU Media Officer
+27 11 403 2077
zanele@satawu.org.za

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It Is NOT #Metrofail

People vote for your future and mine, they make choices based upon opinion and not fact. This is what scares me about democracy – that reason sometimes have to yield so that delusion may flourish.

Free speech is a right, not a duty. It has to be used with circumspection.

Human nature is to be negative, destructive. It takes civilization, evolution, self-control, not to become destructive savages. Some people are just that – savage, if only with the tongue.

Discrimination abounds, one fifth of the nation live with some form of disability or another and suffer a most terrible silent discrimination.

If all were of a specific race, would that still have been the case? Yet a top provincial leader openly used them as a political pawn and went on to call me “clueless” on Twitter. So I proved her wrong and did the job she was called upon to assist with. Former Minister Dipuo Peters, Prasa ACEO Mthura Swartz shone in reaching out to the forgotten, voiceless sector of the community. They stepped in where the private sector, in this case the Golden Acre, dismally failed.

So much for the Prasa critics. It is so easy to gang up the Earl September and Brett Herron, even Helen Zille, way and be outspoken hypocrites. To such, I say: get your act together as you are part of the problem and by no margin a way to a positive outcome.

Show some real, pro-active leadership and be selfless.

It was easy to be oblivious, to not seem to notice, to allow harm to be done while looking the other way. Terrible leadership, whitewashed with a sudden zeal to prosecute the perceived offender into submission. Failing to realise who the victim is. Just another proof that discernment is in deficit at the top.

It would take a commoner without any social standing to see truth.

Central government’s disinvestment over three decades, their passivity in funding and protecting our essential services, was followed by an arrogance at provincial and government levels. When it was time for leaders to employ the troops when #FeesMustFall or #RhodesMustFall spilled over, resulting in arson, sabotage, looting and common vandalism, they remained mum.

The hooligans found unexpected support in the form of passive onlookers who seemed blissfully unaware of the micro civil war raging between the lines. Railway lines.

When these leaders finally woke up, it was to beat all and sundry going by the name of Prasa, fiercely into submission. Did they ever realise that it were their own communities, not even Metrorail, that were the real problem? That they gave licence to this radical culture of destruction by being passive onlookers, or just even just passive. For onlookers are prone to notice.

Society follows the bad examples set by said leaders and influencers, then replicate. Negativity abounds in the city of Whineberg.

Did Zille, De Lille, Herron or September bring forth anything constructive, did they bring positive news of rebuilding our railways?

No! They want to take control yet cannot even properly manage their own heavily subsidised, often-failing service. Perhaps if Brett Herron sees in the blind spot of his own Jo-Hari window, the beam my be less obfuscated.

I have on good authority that tabloid “journalist” cum activist Earl September travels on a FREE monthly Metrorail ticket but bites the hand that feeds him. It is disgusting to see how a journalist can harass, pester, to get attention drawn to himself. It reminds of the transport manager with toilet paper holding his buses together.

People make public displays of their own importance. If only they were as diligent in getting a real stitch of work done.

If people took themselves out of the equation, did not try to score political points but really attempted to benefit society through fair and just, also diligent, service delivery, perhaps we could see a turnaround in Prasa, especially in Metrorail.

We are South Africans. We, not government, own all national assets. These are given to government to manage on our behalf. Political leaders are public servants whose duty it is to manage our communal property for our benefit. They are servants, not masters. The aforementioned, egotistic “leaders” are in positions well above their pay grade. I have, in the past, proposed to them the idea of leading by example, in showing others how to resign.

Meanwhile, we have basic and essential needs to address. Cape Town has 700,000 commuters to transport every day. That equates to 8,750 buses, yet absolute idiots even in leadership positions ask Metrorail: “Why don’t you provide buses instead?”

Imagine that. A magic wand and abra kedabera, 8,750 buses appear instantly. Of course, in the minds of the delusional free speakers, this won’t affect the already congested roads at all. This kind of logic reminds of the travel guru who said that Voëlvlei was 500m deep.

Such people vote for your future and mine. Such people become public servants by the grace of such votes. A few instantly morph into despots, dictators, autocrats. Who gang up instead of teaming up.

So, can we fix Metrorail?

Loot the stores of Shoprite every day, kill their staff, set their stores on fire. How long will you have food?

Metrorail is still providing a rail service, despite rolling stock badly vandalised, staff constantly having to duck to avoid being hit by flying objects, verbal or material. A tenacious lot, these Metrorailers.

There is a spark left, kindle it, nurture it, bring it on, let the fiery passion of the #RailLoveRevolution grip your heart.

Stand up for Metrorail.

Stand up for what is yours.

New travel blog!

Hi, I just started a brand new travel blog at https://awethentiqtravel.wordpress.com/

It is pretty iffy right now, but follow and go with me as I grow. Hoping to bring you special places but also some nice discounts on holiday accommodation! 

See you there! 

#RailLoveRevolution: The Blue Train – A Sequel

https://railloverevolution.blogspot.co.za/2017/05/the-blue-train-sequel.html?m=1

In the article linked above, I walk my blind friend through The Blue Train, back to front. Walk with us, imagine the grandeur and classy sophistication.

I Am A #PermaTourist In #lovecapetown

We were at a world renowned precinct, visited by 24 million people annually. It is called the V&A Waterfront, a working harbour with several shopping malls, roughly eighty restaurants, museums, cinemas, offices, residences over and above helicopter flights and ocean cruises from local sunset trips to ocean cruises, including the world’s largest liners. Tourists asked me if there was a travel agency and I said “NO.” They were taken aback, then I asked them to just look around them, saying “we are here already, where do we need to go to?”

I live in Cape Town, South Africa, one of the five most scenic cities in the world and the top travel destination in Africa. I am here to stay. Tourists sometimes ask me where I am from and I am quick to point out that I am a local tourist. That confuses them, so I explain that I must have a few thousand photos of Table Mountain alone. To do what with? Well, it was fun taking them! When asked if I travel, I say “of course!” When asked where I travel to, my answer is “Cape Town.

Let me explain: one an be born here, live here, see a new thing every day and still miss out on so much by age 85! The other day, a young tourist from Europe wrote on Facebook that she spent two very boring days in Cape Town….she must be very unimaginative as the world’s most scenic coastal rail route already was worth a day out on a Tourist Pass costing less than three United States Dollars? Nothing to do? Did she even put down her phone, detox from social media and noticed where she stayed – in beautiful Hout Bay where one won’t get bored for weeks on end, too much to do!

So, photos we take, things we see. Just yesterday, we discovered a very nice hotel hidden in plain sight right in the centre of the Mother City, as Old Cape Town is fondly known. Views from a rooftop garden on the ninth floor cover from Devil’s Peak to Lion’s Head. The rooftop is an ideal party venue, honeymoon suite with a great setting for wedding pictures. Or a rave with your young mates, or a corporate conference venue. That is where a sign advertising morning coffee at seventy US cents led me….nothing boring there!

Architecture, museums, action activities (well over a hundred!) plus so much more. I don’t need to travel abroad to see wales as we have our whales here 😀

Gosh, how can anyone become a couch potato in such vibrant surroundings?! If anything, cape Town can become an indulgent sensory overload, not that the young adventurer made herself guilty of that.

I travel every day, from Cape Town deeper into Cape Town.

I never get enough.

I coined the term PERMATOURIST to describe myself.

Follow me on Twitter @awethentiq

Main Line Trains In South Africa – PRASA

There is somehow a perception that trains have stopped running in South Africa in 1994. Many reasons are given by “those in the know” yet I am here to boldly tell you that all is well. We travel so often that I have lost count, but I am going to outline our journeys for you.

PREMIER CLASSE

1-2 November 2016

Upon our arrival at the Premier Classe Lounge, we were served with tea, coffee, scones and muffins. Our Train Manager welcomed us and we were addressed by Mr Mthura Swartz, Executive Manager, Main Line Passenger Services. We were made to feel at home. We also soon made friends with a couple from Kenya.

We left Cape Town on the morning of November 1, 2016, on board PremierClasse, South Africa’s only affordable luxury train. At a price point less than a business class airline ticket, you get:

  • Air-conditioned throughout with individual controls in each compartment
  • Only two guests per compartment, one per coupe.
  • Convenient lockable wardrobes, oodles of stowage space and lots of place to hang things
  • Complementary amenities such as body wash, shampoo and shower slippers
  • Shower gowns and towels – these remain on the train
  • A variety of mood- and day/night lighting options with reading lights as well.
  • A foldable table that hides a stainless steel wash basin
  • Soft carpeting on the floors
  • A complementary bottle of still spring water per guest
  • Personalised welcoming letters that also serves as travel information regarding your journey
  • Two lounges with cash bars, with card payment facilities – one for smokers, one for non-smokers
  • Dining cars where some of the most delectable meals are served, prepared by top class chefs
  • Dinner is a five course affair. Affaire could be the right description. It is a sensory seduction.
  • Lunch is a three course delight fit for a king
  • Breakfast – once you have been served, you can face an army. It is scrumptious and laden with goodness
  • Afternoon tea with a selection of cake
  • Welcoming tea/coffee with a selection of muffins and scones, jam and butter, sometimes cheese as well, in the PremierClasse Lounge
  • Welcoming bubbly or juice with crisps, nuts, sandwiches and biltong once on board.
  • I forgot to mention the crisp bed linen, really in a league well above the travel price – also included.
  • A conference car that can be equipped according to your needs and taking 20 – 30 delegates. Also great for weddings, birthdays and wedding anniversaries or just a nice party!
  • Telephones are being installed so that guests can order room service or summon the Train Manager.
  • Mains power ports – 220V great for USB charging, laptops, cameras or your own music gadgets!
  • Plain clothes Police and Security officers keep guests safe. Relax, all is well!

On this first journey, we traveled to Potchefstroom, some 1,200km away – it is not a scheduled stop yet the Train Manager allowed us to disembark as we had another train to catch.

Our train traveled through the vineyards of the Boland and finally we stopped in Worcester where fresh water and Diesel fuel were replenished. The fuel is for the twin generator set that powers all facilities on board as overhead power is only for the electric locomotives. We then passed through the scenic Hex River Valley, then the Hexton tunnel complex that consists of four tunnels of 0.5km, 1.1km, 1.2km and 13.5km respectively. We emerged in the Karoo desert and witnessed a sable antelope that stood guard over a solar power farm. On to Beaufort West, where we arrived about 90 minutes early. On our way there, we were served with afternoon tea and cake.

At Beaufort West, more replenishment and a single Class 7E locomotive replaced the twin set of Class 6E1’s. Overhead voltage now increased from 3kV to 7kV. This is also where the sun set as we passed Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve while the famous five course dinner was served. Some had energy left to party the night away, smoke cigars in the Club Car or just converse with fellow guests over a few drinks in the Lounge Car. In the last few rays of daylight, we were treated to three herds of Springbok (Thomson’s gazelle) showing off their skills. A beautiful sight to behold and as African as it can get.

The next morning, we woke to coffee being served at our compartment – sunrise was so beautiful but we soon saw more herds of wild game – kudu, eland, sable antelope, zebra, gnu, giraffes, red hartebeest……and we were being served that famous breakfast as we passed through Klerksdorp and the first gold mines. Our journey was over within forty minutes and we greeted our new-made friends from Kenya, delightful people that we are still in contact with.

Our Train Manager was the venerable Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana.

14 March 2017

A number of journalists were invited but only showed up. Then you ask me why you didn’t know that main line rail passengers in this country is still alive and well, just better than in the days of old. The occasion was celebrating the brand new Conference Car and I travelled with Mr Karel Crous, the Area Manager, Prasa main Line Passenger Services, as a special guest, to Wellington. I had the opportunity to view the Conference Car on its maiden journey, but had to terminate my travel at Wellington as I had another appointment soon after.

17 March 2017

Karen and I boarded at Klerksdorp, on the return journey of the PremierClass with Conference Car. This was an excellent choice, as the SiMODiSA #VentureTrain was happening in the Conference Car and I was the first media representative to see it in action. Quite phenomenal and those people brought a great mood with them. Our journey to Cape Town, like our November one, was a delight and bordered upon indulgent. We met the owner of a game ranch, his wife, brother and sister-in-law. As our train was a bit delayed, we had the benefit of traveling about two hours longer, due to speed restrictions imposed by the Rail Safety Regulator and/or Transnet Freight Rail, both separate entities. Even so, these and other guests were reluctant to end their journeys as they found it so enjoyable.

Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana was our friendly Train Manager.

11 April 2017

Arriving at the PremierClasse Lounge, we were met by Chris and Nathan, who efficiently took charge of our luggage and directed us towards the lounge area, where Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana awaited guests for the welcoming snacks and drinks – and the regulation welcoming speech and “house rules.” We soon made new friends and were soon on our way, but I first showed an interested guest the heritage trains at the nearby Monument Station. Our journey to Klerksdorp was very pleasant and we were yet again treated to much wild game along the way. We arrived some twenty minutes late despite having gained 90 minutes during the course of the night. This was welcome as it afforded us an opportunity to breakfast before we disembarked.

27 April 2017

Our train arrived a few hours late due to speed restrictions as there was a TFR freight train that had derailed a week prior and the Rail Safety Regulator did not give clearance to travel at the usual 90km/h, but rather at 30km/h. As our train drew into the station from Johannesburg, a guest stepped out to stretch her legs. Her words to me: “Sir, you’d better board this train, the MOOD on here is GOOD.” So, it runs much late yet the guests celebrate? We were whisked to the dining room where our food was served, as they kept our lunch for us. A very nice touch. Then we went to unpack and settle in, as my usual paraphernalia had to be hooked up to the mains power to get charged. Cameras, laptop, tablet, three phones. We are geeks on a mission.

This journey became memorable in so many ways, as we saw even more wild game, twice we found that eagles glided for some distance right next to where we sat to breakfast in the Dining Car. We could advise foreign guests on matters travel in South Africa and we were delighted to count so many relics from the Anglo Boer War of 1899-1902, in the form of blockhouses.

People really enjoyed themselves even though we were running quite late – they found it a bonus as they now had more time to play card games or chat while having a few more cocktails from the cash bar. One guest came up to me and said: “You told me this is the #GoodFoodTrain, but I can improve upon that. Let me call it the “GreatValueTrain as we get more for the same money.” I just loved that attitude!

So, we rolled along the Karoo desert towards the Hex River and Cape Town. Because of circumstances beyond the control of Prasa, our train arrived nine hours late; we had two extra meals meanwhile and dessert with each. I stand amazed at the hours the staff were on duty and how friendly their service was throughout. As we neared Cape Town, a few guests came up to me, asking if I knew “the guys at the top.” They then asked me to “put a letter forward asking that the train always travels at 30km/h so that they can sleep another night on board.” Out of 68 guests on board, only ONE person was upset because of the delays.

Our Train Manager was Mr Patrick Khumalo assisted by James. As we disembarked, James asked me if the trip was exhausting and I surprised him by saying that, to the contrary, a number of guests indicated that they would board at the drop of a hat…..ready to go! Traveling on the PremierClasse is exceptionally pleasant and I am so glad I am not on board on the many days that I see it arrive either on time or a bit early. I would hate that!

SHOSHOLOZA MEYL

Expect:

  • Two classes, Sleeper and Sitter
  • Dining Car
  • A La Carte restaurant
  • Cash bar
  • As on PremierClasse, two flushing toilets but traditional types
  • Hot showers
  • USB charging ports, 220V
  • Carriages are being refurbished and have wood paneling (almost as great as PremiewrClasse)
  • Some have air conditioning
  • 5 or more uniformed armed SA Police Officers
  • 5 or more uniformed Prasa Protection Services Officers

You are in capable and safe hands!

November 2, 2016,

We boarded the ShosholozaMeyl at Potchefstroom and were allocated our compartment. It was old and maybe needed a lick of paint but it was really very clean and somehow, someone had made our (optional). Otherwise, spic & span! We left in a mild thunderstorm, treated to the beauty of Highveld lightning as we passed the many gold mines on our way to Kimberley. Soon, we had dinner which was a beautiful Sirloin served with Hot and cold salads. We had nice company in the form of a few couples who traveled quite often, ONLY to experience the train! They came to beautiful Cape Town, stayed a night or two and were on the next train back. They take all routes on ShosholozaMeyl and never seem to get enough of it. A good sign.

I slept like a log and woke in time for breakfast. Trains lull me to sleep and the gentle sway is something I love. I almost forgot to tell you: we were woken with coffee, a rather nice touch. After breakfast, we stopped at Beaufort West to replenish (there were two such stops while I was sleeping, at De Aar and Kimberley.) From there, we started our slow descent towards the Hex River Valley a few hundred kilometres away, passed through the four Hexton tunnels, the valley itself and on to the beautiful Worcester. We spent some twenty minutes here and I was fortunate as Mr Karel Crous, Area Manager, awaited me and promptly installed me in the driver’s cabin with driver Okkie Pretorius and Assistant Henricho Vermeulen. I had a fantastic ride to Wellington, through Nuwekloof Pass between Tulbagh and Gouda and, all too soon, our journey ended.

Our Train Managers were Mr Veldtsman and Delafontyn while Soraya Stemmet managed the dining car. We were really impressed.

November 23, 2016

We boarded at Cape Town and were once again surprised to see how smooth a train can pull away. One just sees the “platform move away.” So subtle, even on a budget tourist class train. We followed the same route to Beaufort West and took many photos, or bloopers, rather. Fun with cameras….. The train was very neat and tidy, nothing out of place. James, Assistant Train Manager was installed in the Dining Car where Suraya Stemmet did her usual magic and we really enjoyed the shorter journey to Beaufort West, where Dries Potgieter of Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve collected us for a farm stay. Something I can really recommend.

We stayed for a week en returned on ShosholozaMeyl on November 28, 2016 – another pleasant journey.

I think this is sufficient to give you an idea of passenger rail travel in South Africa that really is doing quite well. You owe yourself a nice journey!

July 5, 2017

Stepping from a train that had been awarded the title of World’s Best Luxury Train some sixteen times or so, of which eight were consecutive, we boarded this train that cost almost twenty-two times less. With some guests in our party who had never traveled on trains before! No problem, they found all to their satisfaction and they soon were tweeting and posting all over social media about how great this backpacker on wheels was! Yes, ShosholozaMeyl is LOVED by we South Africans, yet we see that visitors from abroad travel here to experience her yet again. Some adopt some sort of “addiction.”

Yes, rail travel in South Africa is just great and, if anything, better than 25 years ago!

Join the #RailLoveRevolution (also as a group on Facebook) and re-live the days of rail travel. It is here and it is as great as ever, if not even better!

Be sure to: Follow @awethentiq on Twitter and AwethentiQ Travel on Facebook. Visit www.railloverevolution.blogspot.com