People have built shacks in between train tracks in Cape Town. Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency
People have built shacks in between train tracks in Cape Town. Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency

Prasa meets City of Cape and Western Cape government over rail encroachment

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Sep 8, 2021

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The Passenger Rail Authority of SA (Prasa) board is expected to meet the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government on Thursday over the illegal occupation of the railway reserve in Langa.

“We hope with negotiations the chair of the board of control Leonard Ramatlakane will be meeting tomorrow with the mayor of Cape Town as well as members of the provincial executive to discuss a consolidated approach to this issue.

“We hope that if we can remove the illegal settlements, then we will be in a position to accelerate work to restore the central line.

“Everyone is concerned about that and certainly we appreciate the urgency of that project,” Prasa chief executive Zolani Matthews said.

Matthews made the statement when he was briefing the select committee on transport, public service and administration and public works and infrastructure on the refurbishment of the railway infrastructure.

He said it there have been challenges by the encroachment on Langa and they recently obtained a judgment in their favour.

“It has its own challenges in that there has to be a multi-faceted approach to deal with that with the City of Cape Town, the provincial government, Housing Development Agency and ourselves.

“That is something ongoing at the moment.”

Board chairperson Ramatlakane said when they assumed office late last year. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula had mandated them to follow up on the matter after he had started engagement with authorities in the provinces.

Ramatlakane said the matter has been a moving target.

“We have a meeting today and you think you have made agreement progress and then next you find that you have taken two steps back in terms of progress,” Ramatlakane said.

He also said Prasa had been to the Western Cape legislature to give a report back on work done and what seemed to be slowing down the work.

Ramatlakane said the National Treasury overruled Prasa from purchasing land for resettlement on the basis that it was not its competency.

He said the provincial government department has identified the land and that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has also intervened in order to remove the illegal squatters from the rail.

“Obviously, we have to do facilitation to get people off the rail. There is some struggle on that.”

Ramatlakane said there were a number of interested groupings that have come forward saying the squatters should not move unless there is proper housing in the relocation area.

“There is a petition that is running right now. Communities adjacent where the people must move to are running a petition,” he said, adding that they reportedly have 3 000 signatures.

“Those are things outside our purview given we are not that particular authority. We are worried we may not make sufficient progress,” Ramatlakane said.

In his report to the committee, Matthews said some work on the Central Line entailed substation rehabilitation, resignalling, train station rehabilitation, walling project and removal of illegal settlements.

Political Bureau

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