GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - The railway between George and Great Brak River has fallen prey to sabotage for the third time since December. During an inspection early on Monday morning, Transnet discovered that a section of the track had been unbolted, removed and placed next to the line.
The affected section is between the tunnel at Glentana and Great Brak River, near the golf course.
Power Van operator Nicol Marais said the incident must have happened on Saturday afternoon or Sunday, because the Power Van came in from an excursion at about 13:00 on Saturday.
Transnet sent a repair team from Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. Communications chief Mike Asevofitz said repairs were expected to be completed by yesterday (Wednesday).
On the two previous occasions, sleepers and concrete blocks were placed over the line and passengers of the Power Van had to remove them before their trip could continue. Transnet previously told the George Herald that a group of former contract workers who are demanding permanent jobs are suspects, but the workers claimed to be innocent when speaking to the paper.
Asefovitz said Transnet has opened a case of malicious damage to property and tampering with essential infrastructure with the George police. "Our security officials are working with the neighbourhood watch and with residents close to the scene whose houses have security cameras in the hope of gathering evidence."
He said Transnet's security officials have arranged a trolley to inspect the line on a regular basis. "The mountainous terrain made vehicle inspections impossible and foot patrols were also unfeasible. Further discussions with the ex-contract workers are yet to take place."
PPC Cement's depot in George is dependent on this line for transport of daily supplies from Riebeeck-Wes and Piketberg. "We have made a big investment at the depot to facilitate rail transport," said the area manager, John Carolus. "An incident like this affects us greatly. If this continues, the jobs of 20 people at the depot are in jeopardy."
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