Mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron said the City and the province negotiated an agreement with Prasa which will see a dedicated Rail Enforcement Unit introduced this week.
The Rail Enforcement Unit, a joint venture between the City and Metrorail, will be deployed on trains this week. The initiative is aimed at curbing crime on trains and preventing attacks on rail infrastructure, including the burning of train carriages.
“This is an unprecedented and unique intervention that was discussed with Prasa over many years,” he said. Herron said the project was a pilot project and cannot be the sole intervention. He said Transport Minister Blade Nzimande and his department must also intervene to bring extra resources to restore Metrorail’s rolling stock capacity “urgently” as well as additional safety and crime-prevention resources.
“Our dedicated rail enforcement unit will reside under the command and control of our safety and security management, and will seek to improve the safety of commuters and reduce the opportunity for vandalism of the infrastructure,” said Herron.
He added that the service needed at least 88 train sets to meet demand but was currently operating with less than 40. “We need an urgent intervention to get us back to 88 full train sets.”
This comes at a time when the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has been ordered to submit feedback on its costed human resources plan each month to the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), while Nzimande was added as the third responded in the permit suspension court case.
On Friday, Pretoria High Court Judge Cassim Sardiwalla ordered Prasa to submit the feedback report no later than the 5th of each month until implementation of this plan in March. The order also prohibited Prasa from deploying or using new rolling stock without the approval of the RSR.
By the end of this month Prasa has to submit a procurement plan with time lines and milestones indicating delivery dates for spares and dates for when repairs on new electronic interlocking equipment would be done.
United National Transport Union (Untu) general secretary Steve Harris said: “For the very first time, the court acknowledged the importance of Prasa’s obligation to ensure that it provide a safe and reliable service for the workers who have to operate it and for the commuters who rely on trains to commute. Judge Sardiwalla described this case as a matter of national importance and Untu can’t agree with him more.”
Prasa chief executive Sibusiso Sithole said the setting aside of the Safety Permit Suspension Notice was a huge relief to Prasa. “Compliance with the RSR safety permit conditions is non-negotiable not only because it is the basis through which we get our operating licence, but because it also guarantees the safety of our commuters.”RSR acting chief executive Tshepo Kgare welcomed the court order and reiterated its commitment to upholding the mandate of the RSR.
The matter was postponed to June 19 next year to check if compliance was met.
Source: IOL News