Yesterday, a train ride from Durban to uMlazi and back revealed the challenges Prasa faces.
KZN Prasa spokesperson Zama Nomnganga and engineers took the media on a train ride to give them a first-hand experience. During the journey, Nomnganga said they had removed vagrants from the lines, but bigger problems remained.
Nomnganga said informal settlements popped up in uMlazi about five years ago which now prevented Prasa engineers from working on lines. People had invaded Prasa property and added their electrical connections. Houses which are removed are soon replaced by others. Some also built their houses on top of rail tunnels.
“We’re trying to get the eThekwini Municipality and Human Settlements Department to assist us in removing those people from there,” he said.
Nomnganga said banks were a cause for concern because people dug on either side of the lines. This eroded the embankment and the lines would have to be closed after some time.
Prasa is concerned over the mushrooming of informal settlements along railway lines uMlazi, which could lead to the closure of some lines. VIDEO: Thobeka Ngema
“If there were no dwellers at the bottom, this embankment would be stable, but due to their digging, they are stressing it at the bottom. It is collapsing gradually,” he said of one bank in uMlazi.
Nomnganga said they also battled at uMlazi Tunnel because Prasa has to regularly collect litter thrown down the banks by residents, which ends up on the lines. A year ago, engineers were called out to the tunnel because a train had derailed because of the litter.
Nomnganga said they had to remove excess sand, toilets and rubble which had fallen from informal settlements and on to the lines after last month’s heavy rains. He added that businesses close to railway lines also contributed to litter on the lines.
Another issue facing Prasa was cable theft, which meant that signals had to be communicated manually.