Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, with the Railway Safety Regulator, inspects a train at the Bayhead Wagon Maintenance Depot in Durban yesterday. The inspection formed part of Mbalula’s 100-day plan to turn around the state of the country’s railways.
Durban - THE Department of Transport plans to enlist the assistance of the SAPS to train security officials to safeguard railway infrastructure.This is among the recommendations in the Railway Safety Bill that Minister Fikile Mbalula would table before Parliament later this year.

Addressing the media in Durban yesterday, Mbalula said the bill would strengthen the railway safety model and ensure tighter alignment with the SAPS in addressing personal safety and crime in the railway environment.

The department’s spokesperson, Ayanda-Allie Paine, said those who were protecting the railway, even if they may not be members of the SAPS, should be trained by SAPS on several security measures, including crowd control and protecting infrastructure.

The announcement comes after it was revealed that large parts of the country’s railway infrastructure, including railway lines, was protected by private security, who did not carry weapons.

Mbalula was in Durban on a safety and security inspection drive that forms part of the minister’s 100-day plan to turn around the state of railways in the country.

Mbalula said safety was a critical cornerstone that enabled efficient operations in freight or passenger rail.

He said that during the 2017-18 financial year, the Railway Safety Regulator, an agency of the Department of Transport, had reported a total of 4478 incidents in the railway environment across all categories.

This represented a 10% increase from the previous year.

“Our commitment is to implement measures that will significantly reduce these incidents over time. In order for the economy to thrive and our people to be safe, railway safety must become an integral part of our normal operations,” Mbalula said.

The Mercury