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Ramaphosa slams ‘continuous sabotage, theft, vandalism’ of rail infrastructure

On Tuesday, Cyril Ramaphosa told the NCOP government was taking decisive action to improve railway security as part of its economic reconstruction and recovery plan.

Officials assess the damage of a train fire at Glencairn station on 7 October 2019. Picture: 1 Second Alerts

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said the continuous sabotage, theft and vandalism of South Africa’s rail infrastructure is the worst form of economic crime in the country.

He said it had a direct impact on the lives of millions of South Africans who rely on commuter rail to get to work or to study; and also undermined economic growth and puts a further strain on economic resources.

Answering questions during a sitting of the National Council of Provinces yesterday (NCOP), Ramaphosa told the House the government was taking decisive action to improve railway security as part of its economic reconstruction and recovery plan.

Ramaphosa said the immediate deployment of security guards, plans for drones and other high-tech surveillance and armed response units were all part of the plan to stop the wrecking of South Africa’s commuter rail network.

"National Treasury has granted approval of R900m for the implementation of the Prasa security plan to combat theft and vandalism of the rail infrastructure.

“Part of the plan is to immediately appoint security personnel to deploy remotely piloted aircraft systems, to conduct virtual patrols of high-risk infrastructure.

“This capability will work together with specialised investigations and armed response."

Ramaphosa said work on this has already begun but he also appealed to South Africans to take a stand against such crimes and be part of efforts to build a safe, reliable and affordable public transport system.

“As we improve measures on rail network most effective defence is vigilance of rail users and active involvement to protect this national resource.”

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