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Parliament committee calls on Prasa to reopen crime-ridden Khayelitsha railway line

One of the new diesel locomotives which will pull new commuter trains. This one was captured at the East London train station Image: MARK ANDREWS
One of the new diesel locomotives which will pull new commuter trains. This one was captured at the East London train station Image: MARK ANDREWS

Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport has called on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to urgently reopen the Khayelitsha railway line.

The central railway line has been shut down since January 9 after the murder of a security guard in Khayelitsha.

Members of the United National Transport Union (Untu) also threatened to halt northern line trains after a ticket control officer was robbed.

During a meeting on Tuesday‚ the portfolio committee on transport advised Prasa to consider a multi-disciplinary approach that will involve the metro police‚ the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Intelligence Service to develop safety plans to protect both passengers and prevent cable theft.

“This situation is a crisis and necessitates a holding arrangement while a permanent solution is being sorted out‚ Autopax (a subsidiary of Prasa) can dispatch buses to be used by the stranded commuters. We don’t buy the story of next week‚ Prasa must find additional resources to make sure that the central line is reopened‚” said the committee’s acting chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane.

Ramatlakane said it was unfortunate that train services on the Cape Town central line had to be shut down for such a long time.

“For five weeks people haven’t been able to get to their places of work‚ we are simply failing the people of Cape Town. People are struggling to go and make a living. They are being dismissed when they don’t make it to work.

“We are frustrated‚ we are getting hundreds of e-mails from people asking about these trains‚ we don’t have six months to sort out this thing and the state does have resources – why not dispatch engineers from other regions – why do you want to continue sustaining the pain?”

Last week a massive security operation was unveiled for Cape Town’s collapsing and crime-ridden railway system. Steps agreed to at a summit in Woodstock between the City of Cape Town‚ Prasa and the Western Cape government included:

- A 1‚500-strong security unit costing R45-million a year;

- Two bulletproof walls to seal off a 15km stretch of Cape Town’s central railway line‚ which has been closed since the start of the year due to security concerns; and

- Drones — to be deployed within days — to monitor criminal activity on railways.

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