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Mbalula blames theft for dilapidated train stations, as ActionSA calls for heightened security measures

Mbalula said train stations requiring minor and extensive repairs will be upgraded as part of the National Station Improvement Programme.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says metrorail train stations were vandalised at the height of the lockdown. File photo.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says metrorail train stations were vandalised at the height of the lockdown. File photo.
Image: Twitter/Department of transport

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said the shocking state of Metrorail train stations in Cape Town is due to theft and vandalism seen at the height of the lockdown. 

He said critical infrastructure worth millions of rand had been stolen, which had resulted in a temporary suspension of operations at some stations.

Mbalula was speaking at a media briefing on Monday after conducting an oversight visit of the Cape Town Northern Line and the Western Cape Rail Management and Traffic Control Centre in Bellville. 

He said inadequate fencing and other security measures at train stations exposed them to criminals. 

“Since the declaration of the state of disaster and the restriction on travel, Prasa had to cease all commuter rail operations. Considering that Prasa operates an open network that is not adequately fenced in, the lines were exposed and became victims of wholesale theft and vandalism.

“Despite the easing of travel restrictions, the vandalism forced Metrorail to stop operations on several lines, including the Northern Line, as critical infrastructure had either been stolen or vandalised,” said Mbalula.

Mbalula said train stations requiring minor and extensive repairs will be upgraded as part of the National Station Improvement Programme. 

The minister said he was satisfied with the progress made so far.

“I am satisfied that the infrastructure upgrades are on track to salvage a dilapidated network that has been brought to its knees by criminal conduct. These upgrades will be reinforced by a security model that relies on tight collaboration with law enforcement.”

ActionSA’s Funzela Ngobeni lamented the millions of rand spent on repairs and upgrades, saying it was unfortunate that infrastructure was compromised due to a lack of security.

“It is unfortunate that strict measures to protect the rail infrastructure were not implemented. Large amounts of taxpayer money is invested in these projects, it is critical that going forward, the safety and security of facilities should never be compromised.”  

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