TAKING STOCK: Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport has instructed the Passenger Rail Agency of SA to immediately reopen the Central line in and around Khayelitsha. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

An instruction by Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport to the Passenger Rail Agency of SA to immediately reopen the Central railway line in and around Khayelitsha has drawn responses from Prasa, Metrorail and the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

The instruction came in a meeting to which the committee had invited Prasa and the Rail Safety Regulator to discuss the unreliable train operations in the metro, the suspension of operations between the city and Khayelitsha for more than a month, and passenger safety on trains.

The two parastatals answered questions on the unreliable train operations and safety of commuters, following written complaints the committee had received from civil society organisations representing commuters in the Cape Town area.

Earlier, the umbrella organisation Unite Behind - representing several NGOs - and the Unite Commuters Voice organisation had both appealed to the committee to intervene to get Prasa to urgently reopen the Central line serving Khayelitsha and surrounding areas, which has been shut down for the past five weeks because of several acts of vandalism.

Cape Chamber of Commerce president Janine Myburgh said her organisation would like to see the Central line reopened immediately, but that this may not be physically possible.

“Metrorail is in a desperate situation. It is down from 105 to its last 60 train sets, and vital equipment has been stolen or destroyed.

"Much of this is manufactured overseas and instant replacements are not possible. The big problem is security and crime,” she said.

Strongly urging Prasa officials to visit Cape Town and see the scope of the problem for themselves rather than try to control the situation from Johannesburg, Myburgh said Prasa should make more train sets available if it wanted instant improvement on the Central line.

“There is a desperate need for more rolling stock, and Prasa is the procuring authority,” she added.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said it would issue a statement later this week as soon as all operational details of the service resumption had been confirmed.

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