During his fact-finding mission on the Metrorail train ride, Mbalula said his interventions would be different from previous programmes. Picture: Fikile Mbalula/Twitter

Cape Town - During his fact-finding mission on the Metrorail train ride, Mbalula said his interventions would be different from previous programmes, which he described as ad hoc and unsustainable.

He said the pain of "our people needs our urgent attention", the Central Line in Cape Town is arguably the most problematic, old infrastructure issues and predominantly, theft.

"I am here now and we will come back. We will address this issue," Mbalula said.

In the early hours of Tuesday, Mbalula rode from Chris Hani Station in Khayelitsha to Langa station to interact with commuters and learn about their daily encounters and frustrations.

The Central Line rail corridor is known for a multitude of regular challenges, ranging from service delivery protests, the torching of coaches, taxi violence, sporadic stops due to manual movement authorisation, vandalism and damage to infrastructure, illegal connections, the mushrooming of informal settlements along the route and sewage disposal/encroachment.

During his fact-finding mission on the Metrorail train ride, Mbalula said his interventions would be different from previous programmes. Video: Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus

Mbalula said his starting point is to establish a war room because it guarantees that all elements and all parties are on board and then the minister gets first-hand information and where necessary intervenes.

He said they will work together to fix problems in the rail. 

"Police Minister Bheki Cele, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA and the railway safety regulator, all need to communicate with me for us to solve this issue," Mbalula said.

While in his ride Mbalula received memorandums from United Behind, United Commuters Voice, and South African Transport and Allied Workers Union said the rail network in Cape Town has not done a good job for "our" people.

"This we need to change and we will," he said.

#UniteBehind spokesperson Matthew Hirsch said for too long rail commuters have been let down by empty promises and absence of clear plans to fix the broken rail system."The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) faces a massive structural crisis manifested in dysfunctional leadership and a near collapse of the commuter rail service," Hirsch said.

"Tragic deaths often occur on trains operated by PRASA due to overcrowding, failing infrastructure and violent crime. Women and girls are routinely harassed and sexually assaulted with no protection or recourse".

"The systemic delays and cancellations inflict untold misery on commuters. Workers lose jobs and face threats of dismissal, whilst small businesses are crippled by absenteeism and late- coming. Learners lose time at school and at home using a service that is unsafe," he said.

UCV Chairperson Yvonne Dick said they had been communicating with Transport Department since 2017 regarding serious issues, including social programs that they identified, "but to no avail. UCV has maintained that together, we can make the rail environment a safe user friendly mode of transport. Up until now we have been side lined and treated like an unwanted child. 

"We believe that you, Minister Mbalula will take our hand and together we will champion the cause of our people".

UCV's Yvonne Dick said they had been communicating with Transport Department since 2017 regarding serious issues. Video: Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus
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Cape Argus