Plans to protect train infrastructure ‘on track’

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SOUTH Africa’s trains, which are mostly used by the working class, have become the targets of forces, which from time to time “burn our trains for reasons known only to them”.

Examples of this sort of vandalism Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said, have occurred in the Western Cape and at Nancefield station in Gauteng.

Speaking to the transport portfolio committee about state capture yesterday, Maswanganyi also answered questions about the functionality of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa. He said he had raised the matter of security on trains with his Cabinet colleague, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

At Nancefield, he said, the station was given a R12m revamp. “The day we finished everything was vandalised overnight and R12m went down.” Despite these attacks on trains and rail infrastructure, he said, the department was committed.

“We believe we have to provide a reliable metro trail because most of our people rely on it as a means of transport.” In the Western Cape, he said, there was a cartel that was dealing in copper wires. In the province R8m was going to be spent to improve rail services.

Train sets that had been set alight would also be returned to service. “We believe we are going to bring back not less than 60 sets on rail.” As part of improving the train service in the Western Cape, a high wall will also be erected between railway lines and some communities.

“There are forces which burn our trains for reasons known only to them. There are areas where we are going to erect a wall to deter people.”

He also briefed the portfolio committee on the steps taken to carry out remedial action as proposed by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in her report about the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa called Derailed, which was released in August 2015. In her report, Madonsela flagged 38 transactions, which together totalled R3.5bn.

She asked that these transactions be probed. Madonsela also urged former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana and other functionaries be investigated.

DENNIS CRUYWAGEN    news@thenewage.co.za

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