Passenger stuck for three days on train wants refund for 'horrific' experience

A passenger who took a Shosholoza Meyl train that got stuck for three days wants a refund.
A passenger who took a Shosholoza Meyl train that got stuck for three days wants a refund.
Image: Chuck Coker (Flickr)

One of the passengers stuck on a Shosholoza Meyl train for three days wants a refund for the “horrific” experience.

Zak Benjamin had been travelling with his ailing mother from the Northern Cape to Cape Town on Sunday.

The pair was among hundreds of passengers who were allegedly exposed to an unbearable stench from unflushable toilets. They were also without food and water.

Shosholoza Meyl told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE on Tuesday that it had arranged buses to ferry passengers from Laingsburg, but Benjamin said it was too late, as he had already asked a cousin to fetch him and his mother.

"The train managers told us when we were in Laingsburg that they had arranged alternative transport for us. By that time I had asked my cousin to fetch us,"  Benjamin said.

He said he and his mother still had to fetch their goods from the train.

“When I come back from my holiday I will take the issue up with Prasa [Passenger Rail Agency of SA]. I will start bombarding them with e-mails now. I am seeking a refund because the experience was horrific. It was horrible.

“People did not have food, no drinking water, the loos were overflowing into the cabin and the smell was unbearable,” said Benjamin.

He said his mother, who had a heart problem, was struggling to breathe.

“There was a passenger who was using an oxygen tank. Imagine if he had run out of oxygen. A lot of people were even sleeping on the floor. It was an uncomfortable experience,” Benjamin said.

Shosholoza Meyl spokesperson Daisy Daniel said buses that had been arranged to ferry passengers from Laingsburg arrived in Cape Town on Tuesday afternoon.

She said they did not refund passengers and had not received any claims from people wanting their money back.

We only refund when a passenger didn't reach the destination. For any passenger who will submit a request for a refund that will be treated differently. There are no requests for refunds.

She said Shosholoza Meyl had measures in place to deal with emergencies.

“In terms of incidents, we deal with them through our emergency plan. For instance, when locomotives fail we provide rescue locos, should the delay be more than four hours. We provide alternative transport and, lastly, we do have an office that monitors all our en-route trains,” said Daniel.

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