The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has failed to hold up its end of a co-funding agreement for a dedicated rail enforcement unit in the City of Cape Town.  

Prasa came under severe criticism recently from Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Brett Herron, after a recent attack on commuters left one man dead.

“Despite Prasa’s obligation, as confirmed by the Constitutional Court, to ensure a safe public transport service and all of our efforts to assist them to honour their obligation, we are still awaiting Prasa’s contribution of R16 million. We have sent several urgent reminders to the Prasa executive to fulfil their duties and to honour their commitment,” he said.

Cutting back on recruits

Herron noted that the R16 million shortfall has forced the City to cut back on the number of recruits for the enforcement unit which will be focused on the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure.

“I have said many times before that our urban rail service is on the verge of total collapse. Relentless attacks on commuters and the sabotage of our rail infrastructure have become a weekly occurrence.”

Urgent intervention

Herron said he wrote a letter to Transport Minister Blade Nzimande asking for his urgent intervention to ensure that Prasa pays the R16 million that is needed to fund a fully operational Rail Enforcement Unit.

“I also requested the minister to declare a state of emergency or disaster in so far as the rail service in Cape Town is concerned. I did this so that the National Government can deploy additional resources to investigate arrest and prosecute those responsible for the ongoing attacks and sabotage and to assist us to turn this service around and prevent it from total collapse,” he concluded.