South Africa’s rail transport network has lost about R3.2 billion due to vandalism and theft.
This emerged from the national portfolio committee on transport, following site visits in Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
The committee visited train stations to assess current conditions as well as progress made on the Moloto rail project.
Moloto road stretches over 160 kilometres and is an economic artery for Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.
However hope for the much anticipated rail project aimed at easing transport problems seems to be fading.
Member of Parliament Thamsanqa Mabena says: “That project is not going to happen, that project is not even budgeted for in the department of transport budget. I’ve asked questions in parliament and I said to the minister, tell us in the next three years what is the department budgeted for the Moloto rail corridor, his response was we did an application through the national treasury and the project we were told that it will not be funded.”
The rail corridor project was initiated in 2004. A feasibility study was conducted in 2006 and 2007.
In 2014, the government announced a R34 billion allocation for the project. But there’s nothing yet, to date .
In the video below, Mbalula’s spokesperson Ayanda Allie-Paine elaborates on why Prasa was placed under administration in 2019:
Transport portfolio committee Chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane says: “The whole community of Mpumalanga is very angry with the government in terms of the time it has taken for us to respond on this issue of Moloto rail corridor – we have promised them that on our part as the oversight committee we’ll go back and make a follow up and talk to those stakeholders who are involved in this issue and give them back a response on this matter.”
Security on trains and stations remains a huge challenge.
Stations continue to be plundered countrywide, with Gauteng and the Western Cape worst affected.
“Whoever took a decision at that particular time to terminate contracts which were there -preparing for this new insourcing which we support was a bit premature, Prasa also agreed because that left a vacuum and left some stations unguarded as we speak some of the stations are still unguarded.”
Zwane said reports that there are just three thousand trained security officers were misleading.
“We must dispel the notion as a committee of the announcement that Prasa made, we are from the meeting and they agreed that the announcement was wrong and that there are currently 3100 trained security in the country.”
Prasa board Chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane says: “There’s been a discussion about collaboration even with the other SOE’s that has security to be able to help us during the time that we are dealing with the insourcing of security – making sure that we complete the task of having the 3100 security on the ground so that by December 1 we are able to say we have this body that is going to be performing.”
The passenger rail agency has been using diesel locomotives since the resumption of limited services on some of the lines.
This is due to vandalism and theft of overhead cables. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula earlier launched a security plan aimed at addressing these issues.
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