Commuters stuck on train for days jump out to hitchhike to Cape Town
'It’s been lies and lies from management'
An unbearable stench, unflushable toilets, no running water and a lack of food are some of the conditions Shosholoza Meyl train passengers have had to endure since they got stuck on Sunday.
Zak Benjamin and his ailing mother took the train from Klerksdorp in North West to Cape Town on Sunday.
“First, the train was three hours late. We left on Sunday and we had a couple of stops,” Benjamin told TimesLIVE in a telephonic interview on Tuesday. He is still on the train.
He said they first stopped in Kimberley for three hours. Then the train stopped in Orania for 67 hours.
“There has been no communication from management. When they did communicate, they told us lies. Someone who wanted to remain anonymous said the locomotives were not made for pulling the number of carriages attached to the train,” said Benjamin.
The train is now stuck in Prince Albert in the Western Cape, Benjamin said.
“We’ve been here [Prince Albert] for 13 hours now."
He accused Shosholoza Meyl of poor communication with passengers.
"Management told us new locomotives have arrived from Cape Town. Many people are travelling with their families. I am with my mother and the only reason we took the train is because she lost her husband two weeks ago and she has a lot of goods she took with her.
"A lot of people who are on this train are old and sick,” said Benjamin.
He said the train had run out of water and the toilets were not working.
“The smell is unbearable. The toilets are not flushing. We’ve run out of food. It’s been lies and lies from management and nothing has come into fruition. This has been a total f**ck up,” said a frustrated Benjamin.
He said some commuters had opted to take taxis at the various stops they had made.
“Some people jumped out of the train to hitchhike to Cape Town. People are extremely frustrated. There have been talks of violence and burning this train.”
Shosholoza Meyl spokesperson Daisy Daniel said the incident was unfortunate.
"We are very sorry about what happened. Yes, the train was scheduled to arrive in Cape Town on Monday. We arranged locomotives from Cape Town," Daniel said.
She said the train had left Prince Albert and would stop in Laingsburg, where passengers would take buses.
"We've arranged for passengers to be picked up to avoid further delays. We are hoping they arrive home by 4pm," Daniel said.