Central Line to operate by April 2024

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) conducted an oversight visit in Philippi, Stock Road, Nyanga and Khayelitsha’s train stations on Wednesday. This is SCOPA’s third follow-up oversight.

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The Stock Road train station site is where almost 900 families who previously occupied parts of Metrorail’s Central Line in Nyanga and Philippi, have been relocated since December. The visit comes as Metrorail hopes to further open the Central Line to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain by April 2024. The Central Line to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain has not been fully functional for more than four years due to vandalism, theft of infrastructure, and occupation of the tracks and rail reserve owned by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

Many who occupied the tracks in Langa have been temporarily moved to open spaces within Langa, while households occupying the line in Philippi and Nyanga have been temporarily relocated to PRASA-owned land next to the Stock Road train station.

The households were moved to the Stock Road site as part of Operation Bhekela, a joint venture between PRASA, the City, the Housing Development Agency (HDA), and the provincial and national governments to restore Metrorail’s lines in Cape Town and surrounding areas. There are currently still more than 1,200 people occupying the rail reserves in Langa. The land for their relocation has been identified at a site known as the Philippi Wedge, situated between Mitchells Plain and Philippi’s Siqalo informal settlement. A rezoning application for this land was lodged with the City in August 2023. The permanent relocation of the Langa families is dependent on the outcome of this application, which is expected to be finalised in the current financial year.

‘’Three weeks ago, the committee met with the Board of PRASA in Parliament and made the point clear that the recovery of the Central Line railway line will be incomplete if the Board does not pursue and hold liable the former PRASA Board members who took the decision to terminate the security contract, resulting in the vulnerability of PRASA infrastructure that is costing the state billions of rands. The committee wants the recovery of the Central Line to occur parallel to consequence management for those former Board members,’’ said Mkhuleko Hlengwa, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

‘’The committee reiterates that if all the signatories of the Implementation Protocol perform their responsibilities and functions there should be no challenges. SCOPA’s urgent expectation is expediting the permanent relocation of the residents who are now on Stock Road. The committee has been informed by PRASA that the application for the permanent relocation of the residents will be submitted to the City of Cape Town by Friday, 22 March 2024 for processing. The City of Cape Town has said it should take about 18 months for those to continue,’’ he added.

GroundUp reports that during the SCOPA visit, representatives of the families living at the Stock Road site complained that the City of Cape Town has not delivered on their promise to install standpipes for water provision. They also complained about problems with refuse collection, insufficient toilets, and that electricity has not been provided. They also called on the City to hire more janitors to clean the toilets that have been provided.

Cape Town Deputy Mayor, Eddie Andrews said he will investigate the claims about lack of water provision and waste collection.

It is reported that Metrorail regional manager Raymond Maseko told Hlengwa that the electrical cabling in Philippi train station and beyond to Khayelitsha and to Mitchells Plain has been stolen, along with sections of the actual railway line. He said the branch line to Kapteinsklip via Mitchells Plain has also been stripped of electrical cabling. Stations beyond Nyanga, including Philippi, have been vandalised and stripped. Maseko said work on these lines had started to recover the section of the lines.


Done By: Mitchum George


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