Call for Prasa to up security as train service from Cape Town to Langa resumes
By Sisonke Mlamla 13m ago
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Cape Town – The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) is expected to resume train services from Cape Town to Langa this morning, but there are concerns about security after a body was found in a train carriage at Retreat station over the weekend.
United Commuters Voice (UCV) has called on Prasa to jack up its security services. Spokesperson João Jardim said as Prasa plans to re-introduce the Langa service for the first time since its forced suspension in March, they needed to also make sure criminal incidents were prevented from happening again.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk confirmed that the police were investigating a murder case after the body of an unknown man was discovered in one of the carriages of a train en-route from Cape Town to Retreat at the weekend.
Van Wyk said according to reports the security officer on duty checked if there was anybody in the train and found the man lying on the floor in one of the carriages with multiple wounds.
Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said security resources on trains and stations were allocated strategically on a similar basis as general policing.
She said resources were deployed in line with predetermined priority areas identified by crime pattern and trend analyses. "Proactive deployment of joint security resources was based on intelligence, reactive measures in response to reported incidents."
The incident came a few days before the Prasa and Metrorail boards were expected to welcome rail commuters back to the Cape Town to Langa service.
Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane said the resumption of train services takes place after a lot of work by Prasa employees costing millions, with the service phase one to stop at Langa station to allow further work of repairs from Langa to Chris Hani, Khayelistha and Mitchells Plain.
“The line has not been functional since 2019, and the problem wit the central line has been stripped of electrical wires and fibres…everything. Our job is make sure that the transport is available….”
Ramatlakane went on to explain that reason why it has taken to so long to get the line up and running, has been due to the vast amount of damage to the line. They have completed Phase 1, and will now move onto Phase 2, but before they do so, the will have to address the occupiers on the tracks.
Ramatlakane said resettling the current illegal occupants of rail tracks and reserves at Langa, Phillipi, would need to make a way for rail service and the City and Provincial government would assist with alternative, safer sites as a matter of urgency.
Scott said currently only one line would be available for operations. Six trains operate daily from Cape Town – Langa and six from Langa to Cape Town. Trains will initially stop at Ysterplaat – Mutual – Langa and the trip duration would be about 40 minutes.
"An additional shuttle service operates between Langa – Ysterplaat for commuters to connect to other trains destined for Cape Town."
She said in terms of current Covid-19 adjusted level 3 regulations, trains may operate at 70% capacity. That means 1 636 passengers could be accommodated per trip – 333 seated and 1 303 standing.
She said no weekend services would be offered until the demand warranted it.
Metrorail's acting regional manager, Raymond Maseko, said "Our total focus and commitment is to resume train services to our communities as soon as we safely can."