A special unit will be set up to deal with the rampant crime and vandalism that has brought some of Metrorail’s lines to a standstill.
The City of Cape Town, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), and the Western Cape Government has announced that the so-called enforcement unit will focus on the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure.
Metrorail has been plagued by crime and damage to property. The central line has been suspended since January 8, and other issues have been reported on the northern line in the past.
An urgent rail summit was convened and attended by the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA), the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, PRASA, rail experts and business leaders in Woodstock on Friday.
The cost of operating the unit for 12 months is estimated to be R45-million.
“The City is ready and willing to contribute R16 million to get this plan off the ground. I have asked the TDA’s acting commissioner to reprioritise projects and to find the money somewhere in our budget, and he did. I am grateful that we have agreed on a starting point to address the safety and security issues to stabilise the urban rail service in the short term. A lot still needs to happen, but I think we have achieved our goal for the summit by agreeing on a plan of action that can be implemented as soon as possible,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron.
PRASA will contribute R3-million per month to the unit so that security personnel can be appointed immediately.
A product used by the National Department of Environmental Affairs will be used to protect a critical section of the central line. A wall will be built with an alien plant biomass. It is fire-resistant, bulletproof, strong, quick to build, and cheaper than other options considered to date. The construction will about R45 million.
Mthuthuzeli Swartz, acting CEO of PRASA said, “The City is better equipped to efficiently deploy the security personnel than we are at this stage. If we use the product from the National Department of Environmental Affairs we can save R20 million.”