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The 100 officers that form part of the much-anticipated Rail Enforcement Unit will be officially deployed this morning, 29 October 2018. This dedicated enforcement unit is to focus on the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure. 

The Rail Enforcement Unit will assist the existing security services with the challenges the Metrorail service is currently facing, among which sustained attacks on the rail infrastructure and assets, the sabotage of the urban rail network, and the safety of commuters and rail employees.

The formation of the dedicated unit follows on from a memorandum of agreement between the City of Cape Town, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), and the Western Cape Government in May 2018 whereby each of the three stakeholders committed to jointly fund the R47,9 million needed to establish and operate the unit for a period of 12 months.

‘Passenger rail is the most efficient and affordable form of public transport. Here in Cape Town, hundreds of thousands of low-income residents rely on the trains to get to work and school. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure commuters’ safety; and secondly, we must do all we can to protect and stabilise the service. Public transport must enable commuters to get to work, on time, and to do so without being concerned about their safety. The formation of this unit demonstrates the commitment and collaborative spirit between the different spheres of government to tackle these issues head-on. I want to thank our partners for their leadership, support, and dedication over the past few months in seeing this pilot project through,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron. 

The officers were recruited by the City, and have undergone extensive training the past few months. 

‘This initiative is indicative of how serious we are about commuter safety, as well as our commitment to returning stability to the rail network. However, no initiative is complete without the buy-in and assistance of the public. We therefore call on rail commuters and the public at large to do their bit by reporting criminal acts and sharing intelligence to help bring those responsible for the ongoing acts of destruction and sabotage to book,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

Apart from commuter safety, the unit will also focus on vandalism and the theft of crucial Metrorail infrastructure and assets.

‘Improving security in the rail network and strengthening Metrorail’s ability to provide a safe and reliable service is an urgent priority that demands the cooperation of all state actors. The future economic success of this region depends heavily on a stable and sustainable rail network. Having visited the officers while they were on training last month, I believe that the work that we have put into this pilot project to increase Metrorail’s security contingent is a necessary step towards improving passenger rail functionality and effectiveness. It is also a very important example of intergovernmental cooperation in the interest of society. Improving security will go a long way in restoring commuter faith in the service,’ said the Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant.

Thus, from a Western Cape Government point of view, the socio-economic and environmental benefit of a well-functioning rail service cannot be overstated.

‘We thank MEC Donald Grant and Councillor Herron for their support and commitment to this initiative. The unit will act as force multiplier and reinforces our call for all law enforcement agencies to fight crime in the rail system together. We now have our own Protection Services, the Rapid Rail Response Unit and the Rail Enforcement Unit working in coordination with the South African Police Services’ Provincial Joint Operations Command Centre,’ said Metrorail Western Cape regional manager, Mr Richard Walker.