Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says the suspended Soweto and Cape Town train services will soon be restored, with infrastructure development and enhanced safety, as well as security, being the priority.
The services were halted due to extensive vandalism on rail infrastructure two years ago.
The situation was exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19, which led to the halting of train services due to hard lockdown registrations.
The government has set aside over R1.6 billion to revive the collapsed rail infrastructure.
The halting of train services impacted over 200 000 commuters who rely on rail transportation across Gauteng and thousands more in the Cape.
In launching the department’s transport month in Pretoria, Mbalula said work is being accelerated to restore rail services across the country.
“Our work of recovering rail services is ongoing in all the rail corridors in the country. These include lines such as the Naledi to Johannesburg and so on, including the work to achieve the limited electrified services in the area. The eight stations that are being revamped are New Canada, Mlamla Nkonzi, Orlando, Nancefield, Kliptown, Lance, and Tshiwawelo. Work is also underway to recover rail services in Cape Town.”
Mbalula also announced the official restoration of the revamped Pienaars Rivier rail corridor linking Pretoria and Mamelodi east of the capital. Commuters and rail traders have welcomed the restored services.
“It is very cheap and people can afford it. And we have got customers. We help them. Everything is good about the train.”
“I am very happy when this “Istimela Sa Bantu” comes back. We have been struggling with transport. So I am so happy when this Metro Rail is coming back.”
#OTM2022 | @Dotransport Minister Fikile Mbalula officially launched the 2022 Transport Month campaign.
Government’s investments in the transport sector are aimed at stimulating development and creating jobs as part of the country’s Nine Point Plan. pic.twitter.com/d4qbrktfxI
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) October 3, 2022
Mbalula has lambasted the rail management entity, PRASA for allowing corruption, vandalism and theft to collapse the country’s rail services.
“And that’s why I am not going to allow anyone to derail me about what must happen at PRASA. And if anyone is standing in my way, I don’t care who ever they are. You can think you’re my friend or anything. I put you in your place. And then I will kiss you goodbye. We will meet in the next life. And I will be happy about it. Our job here is to change and make things happen for the government. That’s what must happen.”
PRASA acting CEO, Hishaam Emeran says decisive measures have been taken against corrupt personnel, with many arrested and sacked.
“There are investigations, and we know the SIU has come through. We know there’s been suspensions. We also reported about the progress that we have had in terms of these allegations and we know that the media also want some updates. But I think at a later stage we will provide some more details about progress around these investigations.”
The National Transport Month which focuses on service delivery, will also put a spotlight on the road carnages that claim about 14-thousand lives on the country’s roads annually.
This morning we witnessed the recovery of yet another commuter rail corridor between Pienaarspoort and Pretoria. This is in line with our commitment to return to service this year 10 priority corridors
— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) October 3, 2022
Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)