President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Cape Town to join the unveiling of two trains by Prasa, MEC Winde slammed it as a political stunt.
President Cyril Ramaphosa spent his Tuesday, 9 April 2019, in Cape Town and was one of the first people to travel in the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) new commuter train – a first of its kind to be built in South Africa in nearly 40 years.
The train ride was between the Cape Town station and Mowbray, and, unlike the delayed Metrorail train ride the president experienced en route Pretoria recently, the train returned to the Cape Town station just in time for him to attend his next appointment at the Beyerskloof wine farm in Stellenbosch.
The new trains are 2 out of the 35 that Transport Minister Blade Nzimande had promised to roll out at the Cape Town Metrorail before the end of 2020. Another 35 are expected to be operational at the eThekwini Metro in the same year.
Metrorail has an expectancy of 600 trains by 2020, and the Gibela factory in Nigel, Johannesburg, is reportedly hard at work to ensure this target is met by producing 30 coaches a month.
The new trains are said to be less susceptible to fire and have numerous new security features, including built-in cameras. Ramaphosa emphasised that Prasa was focused on modernizing and bringing trail travel in South Africa up to date.
“We want to see infrastructural improvement and I’m really delighted with the team that is now focusing on improving our rail roll-out. The ministry, Prasa, everyone is now committed. I’m really delighted – this is really good!” he said.
However, Western Cape Community Safety MEC and premier candidate Alan Winde denounced President Ramaphosa’s visit as a mere political stunt that was unlikely to make a meaningful difference.
“Today [Tuesday, 9 April 2019] I visited Mitchell’s Plain train station to outline the DA’s plan to deliver a train service that works and runs on time. The station is one of the largest in Cape Town, and should be bustling with commuters, but it is nearly empty. This Mitchells Plain station is almost abandoned, sign boards are not working and very few passengers are using trains. On my visit today only one train arrived in the morning and the next train is scheduled for late this afternoon,” he said.
Winde said the province needed at least 88 train sets to run properly, but only had 36 sets by October 2018.
“These are not simply statistics, they translate into a real and lasting impact on commuters. Delayed and cancelled trains can cost passengers their jobs and prevent them from attending school. Security on the trains, on platforms and outside the stations is almost non-existent. At least 32 people have been murdered in and around trains, yet there have been no working CCTV cameras since 2015,” Winde said in a statement.