Acting regional manager of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in the Western Cape, Raymond Maseko, says the agency has done much work to recover the province’s network following a series of challenges.Maseko was speaking on the sidelines of a blitz activation at the Cape Town train station ahead of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be held at the Cape Town City Hall on Thursday evening. “We had a reset. Post-COVID when we started, there were only 14 stations in the Western Cape that had train access…out of 125 stations. “Last year when we were here, the community of the central line did not have access to trains. As we speak today, we have access to trains up to Nyanga. There are only 11 stations in the Western Cape out of 125 that do not have train access. “If you go currently to Phillipi station, there are people working there. If you go to Mandalay station, there are people working there and Kapteinsklip, there are people working there. We are on the cusp of actually recovering the Western Cape network in its entirety,” he said. Maseko highlighted that despite all the progress made, criminality – specifically copper cable theft – is hampering the agency’s work.
“In South Africa, we have a scourge of cable theft. This is affecting our business [seriously]. Most of the lines that are not available today [is due to] the copper theft that has happened. This morning, we had cable theft at Tygerberg and this… affected the entire system from after 3am. We were only [set] to recover it moments ago. The impact is so severe.“We need South Africans to partner with us. There is nothing like ‘government infrastructure’. In essence, there is just South African infrastructure because all of our taxes are what is creating this infrastructure. It is for South Africans to actually protect the infrastructure. You see something, say something. Do not just keep quiet,” he said. Maseko said the agency has also completed building student accommodation that will accommodate thousands of students in the city. “There is student accommodation that we started building just before lockdown… up until now… [some] 3 200 beds. There are already 1 500 students enjoying the benefits that we have put up. The idea from PRASA is densification and its also transport-orientated development. “That means that we are asking the cities – we are asking that any development that happens – make it around transport hubs. Think about what we have done here. Students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology can be here… that is somewhere around Belville, and UCT that is around town, they can always live here. “They get off here, get into a train, get off at the nearest station… and then they go off into their places of higher institutions,” Maseko said.