The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is working on plans to refurbish the Mabopane/Pretoria CBD railway corridor, according to spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng.
Prasa was working on the resumption of services in Mabopane and Saulsville, among other areas, she said.
Prasa owns 317 stations of the 468 stations Metrorail operates and has experienced unprecedented levels of vandalism across all regional Metrorail services, resulting in disruption to commuter services and the use of buses as a stopgap measure.
“Covid-19 has impacted negatively on the progress of our plans but we are making progress and have a detailed plan for the recovery programme.”
Mofokeng said one aim was to combat crime and theft of infrastructure by building high walls alongside the tracks on the Pretoria CBD/Mabopane railway corridor, as well as using security technology to combat theft and vandalism. This would ensure Prasa had a system for the early detection of crime and facilitate security and police responses.
Mofokeng said Prasa was also dealing with the issue of illegal settlements along railway lines in parts of the country, including in Soshanguve.
“We involve the province and municipalities to assist with finding alternative land for relocation as this is their competency and not ours,” she said.
Prasa lost R364 million as a result of vandalism and theft of its infrastructure and trains last year and has seen an increase during lockdown.
As part of the plans to curb damage to rail infrastructure, drones will be used to patrol lines and structures.
“Part of the plan is to appoint security personnel to deploy remotely piloted aircraft systems to conduct virtual patrols of high-risk infrastructure. These will work together with specialized investigations and armed response.”
The chairperson of the select committee on transport, public service, and administration, public works and infrastructure, Kenneth Moeimang, said last week they had been briefed by Prasa on its plans to deal with the damage caused to infrastructure.
“Vandalism, arson, sabotage and theft have limited Prasa’s capacity to deliver a fully effective service,” said Moeimang. The committee urged Prasa to embark on a media campaign to convey a strong message that criminals “will be arrested and face the full might of the law”.
He said National Treasury had approved an amount of R900m for immediate security provisions, which include a combination of technology and human resources to safeguard infrastructure crucial to its services.
Moeimang said the committee welcomed the advertising of 556 positions for security officers to help guard over 22000km of rail network, stations and other infrastructure.
He urged Prasa to also attend to the Pretoria CBD/Mabopane railway corridor as the failure to operate trains had an impact on the poor who relied on them for transport.
The Mabopane station was closed in December 2019 due to cable theft.
The Mabopane train station project would be completed by April 2021.
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