Transnet has suffered millions of rands in losses after one of its railway lines was cut with a blow torch in an apparent act of sabotage at eLubana in Nseleni outside Richard’s Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
This has caused the 200 wagon coal train to derail damaging 51 wagons.
The Mpumalanga to Richards Bay freight coal line is one of the key rail networks linking Africa’s coal hub with the rest of the country and the world.
No loss of life or injuries has been reported.
“No one just shows up and cuts the railway line for fun of it. It’s a deliberate act and they are not stealing it; they are cutting it so that the train comes off track. It’s not just a rail. It is couple of clamps and springs as well…” says Caesar Mthethwa, Manager for Infrastructure at Transnet Freight Rail.
Engineers and maintenance crews are currently busy on site putting the wagons back on the line and repairing the piece of track.
At least one line has been re-opened.
Mthethwa says the economy has been severely affected by the derailment.
“When we get disrupted, people who buy coal in India [and] China decide to buy coal where they can get reliable supply. We get affected. So, it means we get to produce less and you get to earn less – the money that we need the most for our country.”