Prasa: We need R1 billion annually for security for the next three years

Prasa says security is one of its biggest challenges as it overhauls its rolling stock and reopens some key corridors after years of neglect and vandalism.

Metrorail train in Cape Town. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Embattled Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) on Wednesday said it needed R1 billion annually for security over the next three years to protect its infrastructure from vandalism.

It is also taking extraordinary measures to protect copper cable from being stolen and vandalised as it tries to get key corridors up and running again.

The embattled rail agency briefed Parliament about its plans to fix the ailing rail system.

Prasa said the passenger rail corridor recovery efforts were gaining momentum, so there was an urgent the need to protect the recovered assets until the service was fully operational.

It has seen its infrastructure completely damaged as syndicates target valuable copper cables.

CEO David Mphelo told Parliament that one of the biggest challenges were security related.

"The biggest threat that we have for our infrastructure currently is security. Instead of just putting bodies and boots on the ground, we're also technically looking at a solution and we're taking those cables and covering them with concrete to make it a lot more difficult for people to take them out."

Board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane said corridors and trains in Gauteng and the Western Cape would be up and running by as early as next month.

It also said 'hijacking' of tenders by communities was hindering some of its efforts to get passenger rail up and running.

Mphelo told Parliament that one of the challenges in addressing the problems is “tender hijacking” by communities.

"We’ve also got issues of communities of tender hijacking. When we're starting projects, one could argue that because of joblessness, people when they see these opportunities they also want to be involved."

Ramatlakane said they were working day and night to fix the damage and to get passengers back on the trains.

"Riding a train from Cape Town to Nyanga should happen by July this year and then continuing to go to Khayelitsha in December and Mitchell’s Plain. So, that’s where we are, and we continue to work day and night."