President Ramaphosa ‘misled about Central Line upgrades’
So said Good party secretary-general Brett Herron in response to Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address last week, in which he said one of his priorities would be to fix the commuter rail system, “which is vital to the economy and to the quality of life of our people”.
Ramaphosa said the government would modernise the Passenger Rail Agency of SA’s (Prasa’s) rail network, and pointed out that more than a million commuters used the network daily to travel to and from work, yet the Central Line in the Western Cape and the Mabopane Line in Pretoria had been closed for essential refurbishment and upgrades for months.
Ramaphosa announced that Prasa would receive just more than R1.4 billion to “provide a safe, reliable and affordable service”.
Herron said the modernisation programme, to bring the new trains was never meant to leave the busiest rail line in South Africa shut down for a year.
“It’s a disgrace. That line used to provide nearly 200 000 passenger trips a day. It’s simply not true that the line is not operating because of refurbishment.
“There are currently only 32 trains operating on the network. We need 110. There is a shortage of trains and that is why the service is not operating,” he said.
DA provincial spokesperson for Transport and Public Works, Daylin Mitchell, said: “While I welcome the commitment made by the president, it will only make a difference if concerted efforts are made to protect rail infrastructure and ensure safety on platforms and in and around stations.”
Mitchell said there was no point in spending R1.4bn on the Central Line if the copper cables would be stolen and trains would continue to be vandalised and set alight.
Last year, Metrorail suspended services to the most populous areas of the Western Cape “due to the theft of more than 730m of overhead catenary wire in the Bonteheuwel/Nyanga area”.@SISONKE_MD