Transport Minister Blade Nzimande. FILE PHOTO: ANA
CAPE TOWN - Transport Minister Blade Nzimande on Monday slammed a call by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to declare a state of emergency with regard to rail transport in the Western Cape, insisting national government was "seized with work to restore Metrorail services in the province".

"This call by the DA is dishonest, opportunistic and political manoeuvering  that seeks to exploit the dire situation confronting rail services in the Western Cape. I rebut this political posturing in the strongest terms," Nzimande said in a statement. 

Nzimande urged the DA, which governs in Cape Town and the Western Cape, to deal with service delivery, including providing housing, electricity, and improved social infrastructure. 

"This will go a long way to deal with the state of vagrancy and crimes targeted at the rail network."

He added government was investing billions of rand in reviving ailing rail infrastructure and services in the province, which has been hit hard by arsonists and armed gangs in recent months.

"Our e-signalling project, including the new Train Control and Operations Centre at Bellville, is already 60% completed and will cost R1.2 billion; our station upgrades will cost R1.6 billion; depot modernisation R2.6 billion; and thirty five (35) new train sets will cost R3 billion," the minister said.

Nzimande said additional security measures were also being deployed. 

These included 88 additional armed guards being deployed to escort train crew members and commuters; armed tactical teams with armoured vehicles to protect Metrorail assets; a private investigations team to do forensic investigations and gather intelligence to combat cable theft and vandalism; and drone surveillance technology being deployed.

Nzimande welcomed the recent 15-year jail sentenced imposed on a man for stealing overhead cables near Manenberg, and called for more than 150 others who are awaiting trial on similar charges to be imposed harsher sentences. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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