- The Western Cape's rail system has come to a grinding halt after Eskom flipped the switch on PRASA
- The embattled state-owned entity has reportedly failed to pay the equally embattled power utility
- Commuters were left in the lurch as all trains ceased operating on Thursday afternoon
Eskom has pulled the plug on PRASA after the passenger rail agency failed to cough up outstanding amounts.
This left commuters stranded as trains slowly made their way back to various stations on emergency power and later denied entry to the stations.
The system has been completely suspended with no indication given over whether or not the service will be restored.
The acting regional manager Raymond Maseko spoke to Cape Talk, commenting that:
“Prasa has suspended its service. This is due to Eskom cutting power to our main supply system in Cape Town, citing non-payment of fees that are due. All stations will be closed. No tickets will be sold. Trains are being removed from the section using other means of traction."
Western Cape premier, the DA's Alan Winde, explained that PRASA had ignored the notice from Eskom to settle the outstanding amount:
“Prasa is not paying their bill and it's creating major chaos on a number of our lines. This is devastating. It creates more congestion."
Metrorail confirmed that all trains had been suspended to a loss of power supply:
“The regional train service is temporarily suspended due to loss of traction power supply. Further updates to follow. Commuters are advised to make use of own alternative transport.”
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalalula has issued a short statement on the situation that is expected to cause chaos during peak travel times.
The politician confirmed that Eskom has indeed cut electricity to three PRASA substations, affecting operations.
TimesLIVE reports that commuters were still being turned away from stations, with a large police contingent standing by.
This is not the first time Eskom has played hardball over non-payment. Briefly.co.za reported that the power utility had started unplugging homes in Soweto where the outstanding debt currently stands at R18 billion.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY's news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!