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Cape Town - Specialist Metrorail security guards are to patrol railway lines in Khayelitsha on scrambler motorbikes from Saturday while three city stations identified as crime hot spots will receive new spotlights.
The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works allocated R4 million for 25 new bikes and the construction of 12 new spotlights at the Elsies River, Eikenfontein (in Kraaifontein) and Van Der Stel (in Strand) stations.
MEC for Transport and Public Works Robin Carlisle said: “This will undoubtedly, improve safety for commuters and help to curb the effects that vandalism has on Metrorail’s assets. I have a great focus on rail transport because in the Western Cape it is the main mode of public transport. Our country will never work if we do not improve our rail systems in both passenger and freight transport.”
Officers in the Tactical Cable Theft Intervention Unit (TCTIU), on their scrambler bikes, are to be deployed between the Langa and Kapteinsklip stations (Langa-Gugulethu-Khayelitsha).
Metrorail Western Cape manager Mthuthuzeli Swartz said: “We are responsible for transporting more than 60 percent of workers in the province to work. Security is a high priority for us, but there are financial constraints.”
He said the deployment of the TCTIU officers to Khayelitsha and neighbouring areas can curb vandalism.
“There have also been numerous incidents of violence and criminal activity at stations in Khayelitsha, where people have been stabbed, mugged, threatened, particularly when they travel at night.
“This is not an acceptable situation; we must continue to work hard to address it through projects like this one,” he said.
“Criminal elements cannot be allowed to threaten the delivery of the essential service that Metrorail provides,” he added.
Prasa chief executive Mosenngwa Mofi said: “We are grateful to MEC Carlisle for putting his money where his mouth is.
“The provincial Department of Transport and Public Works has lashed out at us many times, but they also provided solutions to our problems.
“This intervention is the first of its kind in the rail industry and the officers are a powerful and innovative resource to counter vandalism; in particular cable theft.”
Mofi said the security cost of main stations, rail areas and depots, alarms and CCTV surveillance cameras would account to R483 million to be spent over the next three years.
Steven Matee, deputy chairman of a rail passenger activist group, the United Commuter Voice (UCV), said: “The officers who will patrol the railway lines can prevent thieves from stealing railway cables and stop those from stoning and damaging trains.
“I also believe the patrolling officers will keep people away from crossing railway lines and dumping dirt on the railway lines which can cause train delays.”