The Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula announced several measures to protect the valuable railway infrastructure of the South African Passenger Railway Authority (Prasa), which has been severely damaged by theft and vandalism.
In response to oral questions in Parliament on Wednesday (November 18), Mbalula said that Prasa has developed a detailed recovery plan to repair and replace stolen and damaged infrastructure.
"The affected infrastructure includes the replacement of stolen overhead traction equipment (OHTE), substations, signals, one-way and stations," he said.
“High priority is the two presidential projects, namely the Mabopane Corridor in Tshwane and the Central Line in Cape Town. Work on the Mabopane Corridor is about to be completed and the goal is to restore the first phase of services by the end of November 2021. "
One of the new initiatives will enable Prasa to build concrete walls along the identified railway corridors and substations as an additional measure to improve safety.
Mbalula said that these walls are set to be "impenetrable" and "tamper-resistant", up to a maximum of 4 meters, and will be reinforced with additional safety measures, such as electric fences and closed-circuit television equipment.
He said that Prasa has also reviewed its security deployment strategy, including an armed response patrol model, and will employ thousands of security personnel to protect valuable infrastructure.
"In addition to internal security operations, Prasa will deploy an additional 5,000 guards through private security providers during November 2021. (This) will strengthen the coverage of its infrastructure by armed and unarmed guards based on recent security measures. Risk assessment report ."
Although Mbalula's comments focused on passenger rail infrastructure, the government warned that continued theft and vandalism also had a serious impact on business operations.
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), the operating arm of the state-owned logistics company Transnet, stated that the theft of overhead cables and damage to their property had reached "unprecedented levels". The organization reported that over 1,000 kilometers of copper cables had been lost during this period. . January and October 2021.
The organization said in a statement on Wednesday (November 10) that this was due to more than 600 cases of vandalism and theft each month during the same period.
TFR stated that incidents have continued to increase in recent months, with 9.4 kilometers of cables stolen from November 8th to 9th alone.
“Rampant theft and vandalism have a serious impact on freight and directly affect TFR and customer revenue because we cancel trains every day. Since the beginning of the year, TFR has cancelled 1,190 trains due to security-related incidents.
"Many accidents occur in high-traffic and high-volume corridors, transporting major commodities for our customers."
According to TFR, these events include:
These incidents together resulted in losses of hundreds of millions of rand.
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