The Transport Department says community volunteers are their partners in protecting the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) infrastructure. The initiative to partner with PRASA in protecting rail infrastructure was launched on Monday.

The first leg, costing more than R100 million, was launched by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, the PRASA board, the police, civil and community organisations.

One of Gauteng’s 4 720 volunteers, Ben Ngwasheng says the initiative to partner with Passenger Rail Agency South Africa (PRASA) to protect rail infrastructure will improve his life. Ngwasheng lives near a railway track in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.

He says the damage being done to the train station next to his home prompted him to volunteer.

“Things were very bad since last year. The project is being launched now but we started in September last year.”

Mbalula launches Gauteng joint community security project:

Ngwasheng says as much as the initiative will provide security to rail infrastructure it’s also an incentive to volunteers.

“Thanks to PRASA with this initiative that is going to help our people to have a stipend on a monthly basis for about two months and then some I think being absorbed into PRASA. Yes there are opportunities, work opportunities, I think within PRASA. Some can even apply for other jobs within PRASA because they will be within PRASA itself.”

This project comes as a lot of PRASA’s infrastructure has been vandalised. This has affected train services across the country.

The entity says damage to its infrastructure across the country can be estimated at billions of rands. Meanwhile, Mbalula says the volunteers will play an important role in safeguarding PRASA infrastructure.

“It means you are going to be the eyes and ears for those who are supposed to do law enforcement. My understanding is that in each and every station in and around Gauteng we will have this. Stations are vandalised, most of them. They are gone.”

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

Launch of PRASA security project: