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The City of Cape Town, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), and the Western Cape Government this morning agreed to establish a dedicated enforcement unit to focus on the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure.
An urgent rail summit was convened and attended by the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA), the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, PRASA, rail experts and business leaders in Woodstock earlier this morning, 9 February 2018.
Details about how the dedicated enforcement unit will be funded, established and managed will be addressed in a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between PRASA, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works.
It is foreseen that the MOA will be finalised and signed within the next few weeks.
The cost to establish and operate the unit for a period of 12 months is estimated at R45 million.
‘The City is ready and willing to contribute R16 million to get this plan off the ground. I have asked the TDA’s acting commissioner to reprioritise projects and to find the money somewhere in our budget, and he did. I am grateful that we have agreed on a starting point to address the safety and security issues to stabilise the urban rail service in the short term. A lot still needs to happen, but I think we have achieved our goal for the summit by agreeing on a plan of action that can be implemented as soon as possible,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron.
Mr Mthuthuzeli Swartz, acting Chief Executive Officer of Rail at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), this morning committed to contribute R3 million per month to the City for managing and deploying Metrorail’s security service personnel with immediate effect.
The R3 million contribution to the City is for the training and efficient deployment of about 1 500 security personnel.
In addition, Metrorail in the Western Cape will be making use of the National Department of Environmental Affairs’s new product for building a wall along the most critical sections of the Central line to secure the infrastructure that has been under constant attack over the past few months. This is a section of approximately 15 km in length, thus amounting to 30 km of wall on both sides of the railway infrastructure. The construction cost will amount to about R45 million. The wall will be constructed with alien plant biomass and is fire-resistant, bulletproof, strong, quick to build, and cheaper than other options considered to date.
‘Working together with all role-players is very important. This is why I attended this summit. There is no way that we cannot do what needs to be done. The City is better equipped to efficiently deploy the security personnel than we are at this stage. If we use the product from the National Department of Environmental Affairs we can save R20 million. This is money we can contribute to implement the pilot security plan to improve the safety of rail commuters and to protect our rail infrastructure and assets. Also, all of our efforts are focused on reinstating the Central line service during the coming week. We will deploy drone technology within days which should assist us to monitor any criminal activity on the system,’ said Mr Swartz.
Metrorail Western Cape regional manager, Mr Richard Walker, expressed his appreciation to his principals, welcoming the landmark addition of surveillance technology to increase the rate of conviction in the Western Cape region.
‘Now that criminals can be successfully caught and convicted, we call on communities to increase their reporting of criminal activity in and around railway precincts,’ said Mr Walker.
From a Western Cape Government point of view, the socio-economic and environmental benefit of a well-functioning rail service cannot be overstated, said Donald Grant, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works.
‘Rail has the potential to provide rapid access to social and economic opportunities for a broad cross-section of society, contributing to an efficient, competitive and inclusive city and helping to overcome some of the continuing spatial divides. Now is the time for inter-governmental cooperation, in the spirit of the Constitution, and for the private sector and all other stakeholders to work with government to improve the situation,’ said Minister Grant.
‘Rail, and its spill-over effects on traffic, is a major issue for many of our employees and has a social and economic impact on our business and our city. Today’s discussion was a real reminder of the power of government to solve important problems when the different spheres come together to focus on an issue. I hope that today will mark the next chapter in Cape Town’s integrated transport journey in which we must all play a part,’ said Mr Jon Williams, Head of Cities and Urbanisation at PWC Africa.
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