Buses to rescue city rail commuters
Mbalula launches R1.1bn drive to rescue services on Mabopane-Pretoria line thwarted by cable theft, vandalism
THE Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is working to provide 80 buses to help stranded train commuters between stations on the Mabopane-Pretoria corridor.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula made the announcement yesterday at the Mabopane Station during the launch of the R1.1 billion recovery programme of the corridor. The route has been under siege due to excessive theft of cables and vandalism.
Mbalula went to the station with acting Prasa chief executive Zwelakhe Mayaba and Bongisizwe Mpondo, who was appointed administrator for the entity.
The minister was applauded by train commuters and other stakeholders after he fired the Prasa board.
Yesterday, he said it was laughable that poor decisions led to a point whereby a corridor as big as Mabopane-Pretoria, which generated over R2 million a month, was now dysfunctional.
He said to show something was just not right at Prasa, the entity was changing board of directors numerous times a year.
In addition, a poor decision was made to get rid of security companies that were guarding the infrastructure.
However, Mbalula said some of those security companies had been appointed illegally and were in business with Prasa for a very long time.
He said some were founded by people with connections who knew how to get them in bed with Prasa and rake in millions.
According to Mbalula, some of the security companies colluded with criminals and corrupt Prasa staff to steal from the agency.
Some people within Prasa stole and sold cables outside the country.
Mpondo had come in to fix the problems Prasa was facing and also find the crooks who had been running the rail agency to the ground.
He said criminals within Prasa must be chased, arrested and prosecuted. He added it made no sense that there were still no people arrested for all the wrongdoing that had happened at Prasa.
In the meantime, he assured the people of Mabopane that full services should resume to normal by April next year. “For now, the first phase is the recovery and revamp of the station and corridor.”
Mbalula said he did not want people getting to the station only to get disappointed by the lack of trains; they must stay away until Prasa announced the readiness of the interim measures to move them from station to station at normal train tickets prices.
“The people are saying give us what is due to us; we want to go to work. The government must act in the best interest of the people, not in the best interest of crooks.
“Let the crooks go to court we will meet them there. It is even scandalous that nobody has been arrested in Prasa for all what has happened over the years.
“We’ve got a clear programme of recovery here and it is going to need your support to ensure that as President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation Address, by April next year, this place must have been fully rehabilitated.”
MINISTER of Transport Fikile Mbalula crossing the railway line during an engagement with the media yesterday where he outlined plans to refurbish the Mabopane-Pretoria rail line.