Vandalism and Theft Threaten Western Cape Railway Improvement Efforts
|Photo via Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Twitter|
During his visit to the Western Cape on Monday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula discussed the ways crime and vandalism are halting progress of Western Cape Metrorail projects.
Mbalula and the Department of Transport had several efforts in the works to improve railways systems. On Monday, however, the Transport Minister said rampant vandalism, like that on the northern line, threaten to halt critical infrastructure progress.
Mbalula said theft and vandalism of important operational infrastructure had forced the stoppage of the northern line.
Despite concerns about vandalism, Mbalula also expressed optimism about the progress of the ongoing goal to reopen the central line in Cape Town. He said he believes the line will be fully operational by July this year.
The central line has not been operational since October 2019.
The purpose of Mbalula visit was to inspect the progress made by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) of an upgrade project to the northern line. PRASA has aimed to improve several railway stations throughout the Western Cape in anticipation of resuming service.
The upgrades were made possible by National Station Improvement Project (NSIP), which prioritizes minor station upgrades at small and medium-sized stations. Mbalula said PRASA committed to completing 39 station upgrades by the end of the fiscal year.
Upgrades include improvements to security, ticketing offices and overall passenger comfort in the station.
By Ben Rappaport