Pretoria - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says a complete overhaul of security at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will see the SAPS training security guards and drones monitoring rail corridors.
“The security on our railways is not where we want it to be. There will be a totally new arrangement and better organisation on our trains in terms of safety,” he said.
Speaking at Prasa House in Pretoria, following an oversight visit, Mbalula said high levels of customer dissatisfaction, safety, high levels of crime and vandalism needed a more robust approach.
He confirmed that the SAPS would be tasked with training Prasa security guards in combat and public order.
Thereafter these guards would be deployed to various railway systems.
“I want security in the trains; people without tickets do not enter.
"The current system sees people just flashing their tickets and entering.
"Nobody was checking the tickets and that is not what we want.
“If there is constant security in trains, people will feel safe and the criminals and pick-pockets will be removed and the service will run smoothly for those who really need it.”
He said to monitor corridor encroachments, drones would be used and fencing along railway networks would be constructed.
Facilities that need upgrading, such as signalling, would be upgraded to avoid train delays and cancellations, he said.
“Security of passengers, workers and assets remains at the core of our interventions and a source of serious concern.”
He said this was one of the areas where there was a need to redouble efforts to ensure that those who used railway services were free from harm.
“While the work done by Prasa in addressing security gaps is encouraging, we need to accelerate our interventions,” Mbalula said.
He said a technology system to monitor, detect, and pro-actively prevent criminal conduct and vandalism of the rail network, infrastructure, assets, and facilities had been approved and would be rolled out in the coming months.
There had been progress in increasing train set availability, improving on-time performance, protection and security of corridors and revenue protection.
“Serious attention is being given to internal inefficiencies, with particular focus on achieving efficient engineering solutions, effective maintenance and operations management, systems engineering, and reliability improvement.”
Mbalula said the rollout of the new trains with on-board CCTV would also increase the safety of commuters.
It would also deter any criminal elements operating within the trains.
There would also be a passenger counting system for operations planning as there was no proper order in the checking of validity of tickets.
This would reduce the number of people without valid tickets getting on trains, a situation that led to overcrowding and, in some instances, safety concerns.