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SA: Fikile Mbalula: Address by Transport Minister, on the occasion of the Rail Reconstruction and Recovery oversight , PRASA facilities, Cape Town, Western Cape (26/07/2022)

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SA: Fikile Mbalula: Address by Transport Minister, on the occasion of the Rail Reconstruction and Recovery oversight , PRASA facilities, Cape Town, Western Cape (26/07/2022)

Image of Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula

26th July 2022

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This morning we undertook an oversight inspection of the rail reconstruction and recovery on the central line.  This is in line with the commitment we made in May that services in areas that fall under Phase 1 of the recovery plan will be operational by end of July 2022.  Today we are back here to deliver on that promise.  As of this morning we resumed services on the following lines:

Cape Town to Langa and Pinelands

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Langa to Bellville via Sarepta

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his 2020 State of the Nation Address committed to a key priority of fixing commuter rail, which is vital to the economy and to the quality of life of our people.  

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We have been hard at work to realise this commitment and today we demonstrate the progress we have made.

We identified the Central line in Cape Town and the Mabopane line in Tshwane as priority corridors which are essential for the recovery of commuter rail services. It was on this basis that we invested R1.4bn in each of these lines to provide a safe, reliable and affordable service. 

On this oversight inspection we have noted good progress in restoring commuter rail services, rehabilitating and upgrading rail infrastructure. Today, we mark yet another milestone towards the full restoration of commuter rail services in the earmarked ten (10) corridors. 

I am pleased with the progress made in recovering a number of lines on the Central Line.  

This corridor was closed in 2019 due to theft and vandalism and the recovery work of the corridor was further hampered by illegal occupations on the rail network during the hard lockdown. 

To achieve reconstruction and recovery, PRASA had to rebuild the infrastructure from the ground up. Vandalized and stolen electrical cables, perway, and railway clips have been replaced. This also includes the rehabilitation of 5 vandalized substations that power the network.

On each station, PRASA recovered vandalised platforms, station lighting, ablution facilities for commuters and the station building. I am pleased to learn that work is currently underway to refurbish the Bontheuwel and Lavistown stations. 

To safeguard the rail infrastructure, we have increased the number of security personnel on the ground to improve safety of our commuters and staff.  We remain confident that the integrated security plan will turn the tide against theft and vandalism. 

We have already implemented the plan on the Mabopane and Saulsville lines and we will give it a national footprint. 

This project has created more than 600 employment opportunities to date and PRASA has spent almost R500 million towards the recovery of this corridor. The work which has been done internally by PRASA employees and as well as different contractors include the following:

Perway, 

Overhead traction electricity,

3 Stations (Bonteheuwel, Lavistown and Heideveld)

Security 

The PRASA Western Cape region currently has a total fleet of thirty (30) old train sets. This is complemented by the thirteen (13) new Isitimela Sabantu trains that are ready for service. There are currently two old train sets that are operational on the Central Line between Langa and Cape Town. 

Today, we resume the service that runs between Bellville and Cape Town via Lavistown.  The Central Line will have a total of three train sets.

The trains from Bellville to Langa will stop at the following stations: 

Bellville, 

Sarepta, 

Pentech, 

Unibel, 

Belhar, 

Lavistown and 

Langa. 

It is anticipated that this line will transport approximately one thousand six hundred and fifty (1,650) commuters per peak train set. 

The resumption of the service on the line is a major milestone considering the challenges experienced with the relocation of illegal settlements as well as constant criminal attacks on the infrastructure and security personnel. 

The project to relocate illegal settlements, led by the Housing Development Agency (HDA), is at advanced stage.  This has enabled us to fine-tune our strategy to resume the much-anticipated commuter rail services on the Central Line which involved cordoning off the informal settlements for the safe running of trains ahead of schedule. Through community and stakeholder engagement, I am pleased with the progress made in recovering train services.

HDA has identified land for the relocation of illegal settlements on the Langa rail reserve that can accommodate over 1700 households and estimates to relocate over 1245 households from Langa by 30 November 2022 at a cost of approximately R102 million.  

Provision has also been made to relocate a few hundreds of households from Philippi rail reserve to allow PRASA to start recovery work on that section of the line.    

In conclusion, the work to reconstruct the infrastructure destroyed by acts of theft and vandalism is gaining momentum and will enable us to recover commuter rail services within the time lines we had committed to.  Our key stakeholders, which include organised labour and communities have played a critical role in ensuring that the rebuilding of commuter rail capacity moves with the requisite speed.

I thank you.

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