Cape Town – The United National Transport Union (Untu) has welcomed the announcement by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) that operations on Cape Town’s busiest rail route – the central line – would be restored next week.
The service on the central line ground to a halt last month when the union refused to let their members work after a security guard was shot dead and vandalism crippled the route, leaving thousands of commuters frustrated as they had to use alternative transport for five weeks.
Acting Prasa CEO Cromet Molepo said a technical team from Johannesburg would collaborate with the Cape Town team to get the line running again.
“The team has been given about six days to complete the repairs. We have announced that safety and security plans are being beefed up. We’ll have armoured vehicles which will protect the area.
“Communities have also been helpful in reporting crimes and we are encouraging them not to stop. We will win this war. To thieves we say, your days are numbered,” Molepo said.
He said Rapid Railway Police would be deployed to reduce vandalism. He added that safety plans included drones, which would be placed at night.
Untu spokesperson Sonja Carstens said they were still awaiting official notification from Prasa about the announcement.
“We welcome this as people have been waiting for weeks. Prasa is obligated by the agreement signed with Untu on January 16 to make specific safety improvements to protect our members working on the central line. We are ready to resume duties as long as Prasa adhere to our agreement,” Carstens said.
Last Wednesday, Untu threatened to stop services on the northern line after an attack on a 35-year-old ticket control officer and three of her colleagues by five armed men, near Somerset West station.
“We will not compromise the lives of our members. Hence, we would like to see Prasa implementing this improved safety at all its depots and stations,” Carstens said.
Last week, Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said taking into account single and return ticket sales weekly ticket sales and monthly ticket sales 48 000 tickets were sold on the central line each week day.