Cable theft derailing 30% of rail operations every week, says Transnet CEO Derby

Derby said that the impact was extraordinary, with 650 of these crimes reported monthly.

Since October 2019,  services have been suspended on the Central Line between Cape Town to Chris Hani and Cape Town to Kapteinsklip due to extensive overhead cable theft and infrastructure damage. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Transnet group CEO Portia Derby said that 30% percent of their rail operations were disrupted every week due to cable theft.

Derby said that the impact was extraordinary, with 650 of these crimes reported monthly.

The CEO said that they were now working closely with the police, Eskom, Prasa and Telkom, who were all battling the ripple effect of cable theft on their operations.

“For cable theft to disrupt you, you don’t need hundreds of kilometres to be stolen, just a few metres need to be stolen and the train can’t move. And it's actually introduced quite an unexpected conundrum as you're going towards greening, as we want to contribute to the decarbonisation as every responsible citizen would,” Derby said.

She said the only reliable rail service was diesel powered, but it has its own problems.

"These are four times more expensive and unfortunately, a serious emitter as well. But you've got to make choices right? If you're going to drive your exports and it's a view that we support, you need to have as much rail-friendly cargo as possible and it's something that we support and you can't move in that direction if you cannot provide reliability."

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