Minister Fikile Mbalula during the launch of the People’s Responsibility to Protect by Prasa. Picture: Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
Minister Fikile Mbalula during the launch of the People’s Responsibility to Protect by Prasa. Picture: Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

Mabopane Station top of list of those needing to be refurbished - Fikile Mbalula

By Sakhile Ndlazi Time of article published Mar 16, 2021

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Pretoria - Mabopane Station, one of Gauteng’s 16 railway stations that has been relentlessly vandalised, is in line to be repaired.

Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula said yesterday the station was one on top of the list of those “needing to be refurbished”.

“We were supposed to build fencing and pavements for the station, but we couldn’t because we didn’t have the capacity and right management.

“We have the money now, and it is a priority, along with Pienaarspoort in Mamelodi,” Mbalula said.

He was speaking during the launch of the People’s Responsibility to Protect campaign by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in Pretoria.

The project aims to partner with communities living near railways to protect infrastructure.

Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane also said they were working on plans to refurbish the Mabopane/Pretoria CBD railway corridor.

He said said the project included 15 corridors in Gauteng. Prasa will introduce a further 10 new corridors.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the government had committed R1.4 billion to refurbish the Mabopane rail corridor as well as the Central Line in the Western Cape.

“Work under way on other lines includes station upgrades, parkway replacements, new signalling systems and overhead electrical traction upgrades.”

Both lines had to stop services in 2019 because of vandalism.

Mbalula said community-based volunteers would partner with Prasa nationwide, focusing specifically on stations and corridors experiencing the most crime, including Mabopane.

Prasa owns 317 stations of the 468 stations Metrorail operates, and has experienced unprecedented levels of vandalism across all regional Metrorail services, resulting in disruption to commuter services and the use of buses as a stopgap measure.

One aim of the Prasa programme was to combat crime and the theft of infrastructure by building high walls alongside the tracks along the Pretoria CBD/Mabopane railway corridor. Security technology will be used to combat theft and vandalism.

Prasa will use the system for the early detection of crime and facilitate security and police responses.

Similar projects will be launched in other parts of the country where train transport services are in use.

Gauteng train services have grinded to a halt since last year due to vandalism and theft of cables, causing at least R173 million loss and leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded.

Pretoria News’ sister paper, The Star, visited three critical rail transportation nodes last year across Gauteng, which had been wrecked since the suspension of services following the initial lockdown which kicked in in March.

According to a parliamentary response to DA MP Mike Waters, Gauteng had lost R672 570 daily in income in the province’s 17 rail nodes due to destroyed infrastructure.

That equated to an annual loss of R173m that Prasa had lost in the province, as the switched off high-voltage infrastructure had opened the floodgates for cable looters to strip rail assets in daylight.

The paper had visited the Vereeniging to Midway (daily loss of R77 429) and the Naledi to New Canada (daily loss of R70 290) rail junctions, which are two of the three most loss-making routes in the province; as well as the Germiston to Kwesine (Katlehong) node, where locals were stripping cables with no security in sight.

Looters cashing in on the railway lines had said they saw this as an easy way to make money as cables were lucrative assets for alleged unscrupulous warehouses and scrapyards, which paid top dollar for the metal.

At the time, Gauteng had been running at 15% capacity because of the vandalism since July 1 in the Pienaarspoort to Pretoria line.

Pretoria News

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