President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the Cape Town central train station on Tuesday morning. PHOTO: Songezo Ndlendle/ANA

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Community Safety MEC and premier candidate Alan Winde has slammed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit and unveiling of two trains on Tuesday in Cape Town, pointing out that the visit was  a political stunt that is unlikely to make any meaningful difference.

“Today (Tuesday) I visited Mitchell’s Plain train station to outline the DA’s plan to deliver a train service that works and runs on time. The station is one of the largest in Cape Town, and should be bustling with commuters, but it is nearly empty. This Mitchells Plain station is almost abandoned, sign boards are not working and very few passengers are using trains. On my visit today only one train arrived in the morning and the next train is scheduled for late this afternoon,” Winde said in a statement.

Ramaphosa was in Cape Town for the launch of the new trains belonging to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

During the unveiling at the Cape Town central station, Ramaphosa said of his recent experience in Tshwane: "I went onto a train in Soshanguve hoping to be in Pretoria in about 30 minutes. It took us three full hours to get to Pretoria, firstly the train arrived late and it was overcrowded and the people who were being transported were frustrated, but they also told me that, president, this is our daily experience.

"I promised that we are going to make sure that our trains run on time, which I have discussed with the minister, with the chairperson of the board and with the management and that is something that is soon going to be the experience of the past, because we are going to improve rail transportation, we are going to make sure that our trains arrive on time and they are not crowded but more importantly that they are safe.”

Winde said the province needed at least 88 train sets to run properly, but only had 36 sets by October last year. “These are not simply statistics, they translate into a real and lasting impact on commuters. Delayed and cancelled trains can cost passengers their jobs and prevent them from attending school. Security on the trains, on platforms and outside the stations is almost non-existent. At least 32 people have been murdered in and around trains, yet there have been no working CCTV cameras since 2015,” he said, adding that it was unacceptable that residents who relied on this mode of transport should have to fear for their lives every time they step onto a train.

Winde further added that “this is why nearly 250,000 who used the trains previously no longer do so and shifting the traffic burden onto our roads in buses, taxis and cars.”

African News Agency (ANA)