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15 October 2018

Release: Immediate

The Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape (DAWC) welcomes the joint venture between Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and the City of Cape Town to deploy the rail enforcement unit to curb crime and vandalism of trains.

I will be keeping a close eye on this development to ensure that the safety of Metrorail commuters is prioritised, and that dealing with incidents of crime and restoring rail service is at the forefront of the Minister’s concerns.

The Western Cape government has also committed R16 million to railway safety initiatives.

While a task lay head for this unit, I must reiterate that the primary mandate of rail services and transportation in the Western Cape lies solely with the National Department of Transport, and I trust that the ANC at national government takes the concerns of Western Cape residents seriously.

Transport Minister, Blade Nzimande, must give the public a detailed plan of action as to how his department and the South African Police Service will investigate the continued burning of train carriages and vandalism which seems to be part of a broader agenda to deliberately destabilise rail services in the province.

It is of great concern that in the wake of these incidents of sabotage, Cape Town train station, the busiest station in the city, has not had functioning CCTV cameras since 2015. Further, Metrorail does not have a dedicated intelligence unit to investigate and combat crime.

Media reports have suggested that R69 million was lost to train damages over the past four months and further, at least R120 million in damages is estimated to have been accrued over the past five years.

At least 88 trains are needed to meet the demand of commuters, however, Metrorail is operating with less than 40 as a result of damages.

It is also unacceptable that more and more people lose their jobs in this volatile economic climate because of the chronic delays due to the ailing infrastructure.

Trains are the still by far the most affordable mode of transport but in recent times commuters have experienced the worst services on trains. This is precisely the reason Minister Nzimande must take the South African into confidence and tell us how these burning issues will be dealt with.

As the accounting authority, Minister Nzimande cannot sit idle and wait for the outcome of the Public Protector’s investigation, which was requested by the DAWC, in order to act. The time to take decisive action is now and all those who are responsible for the collapse of the railway system must be held accountable.

A DA government will ensure that Metrorail services are ceded to the Metros and will prioritise the safety of commuters by providing an effective and reliable railway system.

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