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Fixing SA’s railway system could take decades - Untu

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula released the 2018/19 State of Railway Safety Report on Tuesday.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula experienced difficulties that Cape Town Metrorail commuters face daily as he joined them on a trip. Picture: @MbalulaFikile/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The United National Transport Union (Untu) said on Wednesday it would take decades to fix the country’s rail system.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula released the 2018/19 State of Railway Safety Report on Tuesday.

According to the report, at least 30 deaths were recorded due to crime. Besides crime-related deaths, countrywide more than 280 people were killed after being struck by trains.

Untu’s Sonja Carstens said securing the rail network was a challenge.

“With the vandalism and everything, it’s not easy to secure the rail infrastructure. Remember we’ve got 37,000 kms of rail infrastructure in our country, so where do we start? We’ve asked for SANDF to be employed to patrol the railways.”

There were 370 derailments and Carstens said it was linked to the lack of infrastructure protection.

“If you fix the signal today, you need to protect it or it will be broken tomorrow. In the Western Cape, we have a situation where gangs use railway lines as territory.”

The Transport Department said the government was working around the clock to ensure a safe and reliable service to commuters.

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