Prasa sets aside over a billion rand to restore Cape Town’s Metrorail line

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The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has set aside about R1.4 billion to restore services on Cape Town’s Metrorail central line.

The central line between Langa train station as well as Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain on the Cape Flats has been the hardest hit by the arson attacks on Metrorail trains, cable theft and vandalism of infrastructure which continue to affect the passenger rail service over the past three years.

Services on the central line have been suspended since November last year due to vandalism and arson. Thousands of commuters living near the central line have had to use alternate means of transport over the past while at extra cost to themselves.

Prasa says train services on the central line are expected to be fully operational by May next year.

“We are looking at limited service, where we will have about ten train sets in service, next year from April to May we’re looking at recovering a full service, that will be about 33 train sets, between now and then we are looking at an option of a road-based solution where we will have about 80 buses, 70 seater buses that will transport passengers from station to station not encroaching on operating licensed routes,” says Prasa Administrator, Bongisizwe Mpondo.

Poor administration at Prasa has been singled out as being responsible for the dysfunctional state of the rail entity. Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula says steps are being taken to restore order at Prasa.

“There are people who are employed here at Prasa because this place has actually lost control but they come here to steal, part of the syndicate which works here, they work with employees, but we seem to be helpless at employees who are hell-bent to run down Prasa. The board, they don’t function.”

Some of the commuters on the central line say they cannot wait for changes to take place on Metrorail services. “I am always late like this morning I took a train from Strand, I only came here just now. It’s not what it’s supposed to be. You come to work late because of the train. Sometimes you stand, waiting for the train but the train doesn’t come. So you have to go back home or you have to take a taxi which is expensive,” says one of the commuters.

About R170 million has been spent so far on repairing infrastructure.