Prasa’s new Cape Town central line headache
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Cape Town - Despite the central line being reopened earlier this week, thousands of passengers are still looking for alternative means of transport.
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) reopened the line which is meant to run from Cape Town station to Chris Hani station and Kapteinsklip, but now trains run until Langa station.
Thousands of shacks have been erected at three stations which are Langa, Philippi and Nonqubela.
Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said the service resumed between Cape Town and Langa. However, the service to Chris Hani and Kapteinsklip required infrastructure reinstatement and the removal of illegal settlements.
She said there are about 8 000 structures erected on and around the tracks and have been there for several years now.
“In March last year, Minister Fikile Mbalula engaged with the Langa community indicating that they would have to move off the tracks and they have been served with a notice to vacate by Prasa,” she said.
She said attempts would be made to facilitate a voluntary move, failing which, a legal process would unfold.
“Commuters from other stations are reliant on other modes of transport with buses or taxis,” she said.
A resident in the informal settlement, named Siyahlala, in Langa, Mlondolozi Magqabi, said they are not going anywhere.
“If Prasa wants us to move, they must provide us with land that has basic services,” he said.
Magqabi said they have been living there for a while and that trains did not stop operating because of them. He said also there are thieves who stole the cables which meant the trains have to stop.
“Trains have been operating while we were staying here. It is not because we built shacks here that they stopped,” he said.
He said they have nothing to do with commuters that are suffering because the operations do not go beyond Langa.
“We have nothing to do with those people, it is Prasa that has to worry about them. If they decide to move us forcefully we will make sure that no trains operate at all,” he said.
A community leader at the informal settlement at Philippi station, Mboniso Kondile, said they are also not moving unless they are provided with serviced land.
However, he said he feels for the people that are suffering because trains don't operate where they live.
“It is not good that others are suffering because trains do not go to their areas. It is especially sad because the poor rely on trains but now they must have money for taxis all the time,” he said.
Prasa spokesperson Bane Ndlovu echoed Scott's sentiments, saying every attempt will be made to facilitate a voluntary move, failing which a legal process will unfold.
’’The reconstruction of infrastructure will be preceded by the erection of walling/fencing in conjunction with a security strategy inclusive of technology,’’ Ndlovu.