Prasa slammed for neglecting Cape Town's busiest train line
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s transport portfolio committee said the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) continued to fail to get the Central Line up and running and claimed that the organisation had completely neglected the busiest line in Cape Town even before the Covid-19 pandemic occurred.
Committee chairperson Angus McKenzie said the line has been left to be completely vandalised.
“Vandals have moved on from stealing underground cables to overhead cables, train tracks and now the overhead pylons.”
McKenzie said while vandalism was a key factor in the state of the line, “we must never discount the fact that Prasa has played a leading role in not ensuring that the necessary safety and security measures have been put in place”.
He said a multimillion-rand wall construction between Netreg Station and Bonteheuwel Station was welcomed by the community, but then it all stopped leaving strategic gaps between the wall to allow for vandals to have additional peace of mind in continuing their criminal acts.
“When President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation in his State of the Nation address for 2020, he promised that by September 2020 and with a budget of over R1.4 billion the Central Line would be back up and running. We are well into September and the only thing that has happened since is that the line has been completely stripped of any resemblance of a train line,” he said.
McKenzie said that the promise was further bolstered with the announcement by Prasa administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo that 80 buses would be procured to commute 5 000 passengers an hour on the central line, but that has also not materialised.
However, what has materialised was that on May 12 Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula praised Mpondo for his plan to fix Prasa but a few weeks back the Western Cape High Court set aside Mpondo’s appointment as administrator.
Prasa spokesperson Makhosini Mgitywa said that the role of rail in Cape Town and the central line, in particular, as the backbone of the transport system, was well appreciated.
Mgitywa said that the recovery of the central line has unfortunately experienced delays for various reasons, including the lockdown implications, internal capacity challenges and lack of adequate security solutions.
He said that they have, however, made progress on developing the various project specifications and rescoping the damage to infrastructure that occurred during lockdown.
“We are still committed to at least provide an interim transport solution, such as bus service, while we undertake the recovery works. In addition to the business case we have submitted to the treasury, we are further exploring options with existing Autopax buses.”
United Commuters Voice spokesperson Joao Jardim said the central line would not reopen any time soon as structures have been built on the tracks and Prasa needed to address the matter before it could proceed with any form of rebuilding or opening of the line.
Khayelitsha Development Forum chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said development forums in the Cape Flats expressed their disappointment and anger at the delayed rail service recovery plan by Prasa on the central line.
Tyhido said that the lives of the people of the central line matter and were deserving of a safe, cost-effective and reliable train service.