SA cable theft hits Gautrain, causes delays

Cable theft from the high speed railway service Gautrain in the South African province of Gauteng caused long delays this morning, as the recurring problem causes of millions of rand in damage.

Usually travelling at a speed of 160km/h, the Gautrain could only move at a speed of 30km/h because of the 370 metres of stolen signalling cable between Midrand and Samrand.

Several other routes were also disrupted as the signalling cable is an essential part of ensuring safe railway movements.  

According Bombela Concession Company (Pty) Ltd, which runs the Gautrain, the cables were stolen overnight.

Kelebogile Machaka, spokesperson at Bombela, told HumanIPO: “We are massively frustrated to once again fall victim to this sort of crime.

“We have also implemented all reasonable measures including deploying additional rapid response teams to ensure the security of our rail reserve.”

The company appealed to the government to solve the problem of cable theft as its “consequential costs to the economy are enormous”.

With regards to how the criminals gained access to the cables,  a spokesperson told HumanIPO:  “We really don’t know, because there is security.”

Benjamin Mmnele, call line operator at Gautrain, confirmed the problem was solved and the lines have been replaced by 10am. All train schedules have since been running accordingly.  

Meanwhile, the South African Chamber of Commerce of Industry (Sacci) said today collective damage adds up to ZAR11.2 million (US$1.2 million) for February, soaring ZAR100,000 (US$11,000) since January.

HumanIPO reported last month Sacci said the calculated copper cable loss of ZAR11.1 million (US$119,194) for January was the lowest in four years.

Last week, Telkom lines were out of order in Gauteng due to missing telephone wires, leaving 650 landlines inactive.

HumanIPO reported in January on a death caused in the Western Cape province as a train derailed because of cable theft.

Furthermore, the same crime has led to the disconnection of citizens from emergency services in the Eastern Cape province.

Last year, the South African Police Service (SAPS) threatened to tighten the laws on the punishment and tracking of cable thieves.

While some arrests were made, the country’s infrastructure still suffers frequently under such unlawful operations.

Other African countries also similarly influenced recently include Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.

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