On Friday evening, a gang terrorised passengers aboard a train during a commute between Lynedoch and Eerster river, leaving one dead and 8 others injured. This is just one of a series of events that has plagued the Cape Town railway system since the start of the year.
Following the train attack, the City of Cape Town has called on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to bring forward the R16-million owed towards the safety enforcement program and provide commuters with a safe and reliable transport service.
Mayco Member of Transport and Urban Development, Brett Herron, said in a statement that PRASA has not abided to their commitment in ensuring the safety of train passengers.
“Eight commuters were also robbed of the very little belongings they had on them, and thrown off the train. One commuter was found with a broken knife blade embedded in his head,” he said.
The City is currently training a “special enforcement unit” that will be tailored towards ensuring the safety, security and peace of mind of train commuters.
“PRASA has failed to pay their part of the funding that is needed for the special Rail Enforcement Unit that the City is currently training,” Herron said.
He highlighted that PRASA had gone against their word, as a signed memorandum dated from earlier in 2018 was agreed on by the City, Western Cape Provincial Government and the train services organisation.
The Cape Town Metrorail service has become synonymous with crime, violence and sabotage – due to the recent spate of attacks on the service.
In order to maintain the yearly operational costs of the “special enforcement unit”, R47.9-million is required.
Herron expressed his frustration that PRASA is failing to do their part.
“We are still awaiting PRASA’s contribution of R16 million,” Herron said. “We have sent several urgent reminders to the PRASA executive to fulfil their duties and to honour their commitment.”
A letter of urgency was sent to the National Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, on behalf of the City of Cape Town, to hand over the monies owed and ensure the safety of passengers.
The City of Cape Town is calling for National government to declare the railway service a state of emergency to conduct in-depth investigations to alleviate the crime, sabotage and violence on the transport service and its patrons.
The increase in violence is negatively impacting the lives of commuters who rely on the transport service daily.