Table Mountain Cableway Company has reassured visitors that the correct emergency procedures were followed and no lives were endangered on Monday night when an Eskom power outage resulted in people being stranded in cable cars.
The only people whose lives were at risk were those who ignored instructions from the cabin master and leapt from the cable car to the landing dock at the top cable station.
Mike Williams, Senior Operations Manager at the Cableway, said: “Because people’s lives were not in danger, we could not rush the situation. Safety is paramount and we first needed to ensure that all safety procedures were in place before completing the 15 trips it took to get everyone off the mountain. Safety will never be compromised.”
Responding to reports that cabin masters had not dealt with the situation correctly, Sabine Lehmann, CEO of the Table Mountain Cableway Company, said cabin masters had to pass a certificate of competence before they could work in the cabins.
The cabin master’s training included the following:
“The cabin masters undergo training to deal with this kind of situation. They are there to inform visitors of safety measures in an emergency situation. The cabins themselves are controlled by senior personnel situated in the control room at the lower station,” Lehmann said.
“In a situation where the Cable car is unable to move, the protocol is that the control room at the lower station takes over all decision making. Our two senior managers have 17 years experience each on the mountain.”
In this instance, it was noted that the occupants were extremely stressed and scared and in conjunction with Wilderness Search and Rescue it was decided to evacuate the occupants first and then realign the necessary platforms.
Lehmann said that in the event of an emergency, cable car doors were only opened if it was deemed safe to do so. In this situation it was not deemed safe and thus the control room instructed that the doors remain closed.
The windows were open to allow fresh air into the cabin. The cabin’s built in ladder was used to allow occupants to safely exit the cabin and a safety gate in each car was removed in order to aid the safe evacuation of passengers in keeping with practiced rescue procedures.
The Cableway has operated safely for 78 years taking up more than 18 million visitors to date. Sabine Lehmann, CEO of the Table Mountain Cableway Company, said Monday night’s operation, in which the Cableway safely took 900 people down the mountain, was testament to the effectiveness of the Cableway’s safety procedures.