Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, and Prasa management have unveiled a multi- million-rand plan to refurbish vandalised train stations. Rail infrastructure in the country has deteriorated over the years, but the Transport Department says a recovery plan is in place.
“We are going to spend more where we are not supposed to spend. We are supposed to spend it on developing the service further for our people. Nobody can be blamed at the moment, because we all know the state of Prasa. No excuses to say this is because of the past. It is falling on us now and we must take responsibility. I’m here and I am taking responsibility and saying this place is going to change and if it doesn’t change, I’m prepared to go. Without being reshuffled at night I’m prepared to leave.”
Department of Transport unveils railway infrastructure recovery plan:
Train commuters will have to wait for at least 10 months while Prasa upgrades its rail infrastructure. Commuters were the biggest losers after overhead cables and metal were stolen from train stations during the hard lockdown.
Minister Mbalula blamed the devastation on negligent managers and vowed to hold the incoming board accountable.
“The investment we are making at Prasa is part of the implementation of our rail to road strategy. It is crucial towards positioning rail as the backbone of our public transport system. While Prasa has struggled for many years to roll out its modernisation programme, we have no doubt that our intervention will place Prasa on a stable footing.”
Mbalula also committed to protect rail infrastructure to prevent history from repeating itself.
Over 200 train stations across the country need fixing and essential stations like the Naledi Station will be prioritised.
The Soweto corridor connects six stations and has the potential to generate R2 million monthly.
“We have identified the following corridors as priority corridors for service recovery this financial year. We have prioritised Mabopane to Pretoria, which was in the president’s budget speech, and one of the biggest corridors in Gauteng. Lerana, on the side of Germiston.”
Prasa has warned that overcrowding will remain an issue until refurbishments have been completed.
A small number of diesel trains will be used in the interim.