SA plans to hire 5,000s security guards for railways

Several measures have been announced to protect the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) rail infrastructure which has been heavily damaged by theft and vandalism.

According to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Prasa has put in place a detailed Recovery Plan to replace or rehabilitate stolen and vandalised infrastructure – including the hiring of more security personnel.

He said: “The affected infrastructure includes the replacement of stolen Overhead Traction Equipment (OHTE), substations, signalling, per way and stations. Of high priority is the two presidential projects, being the Mabopane Corridor in Tshwane and the Central Line in Cape Town. Work on the Mabopane Corridor is nearing completion and is on target to resume phase 1 of services by the end of November 2021.”

Prasa also intents to construct concrete walls along identified rail corridors and around substations as an additional security measure. They will be up to four metres high, reinforced with additional security such as electric fences and CCTV and will be “impenetrable” and “vandal proof” according to Mbalula.

Thousands more security guards will also be hired: “Over and above the internal security operations, Prasa will be deploying a further 5,000 guards sourced through private security providers during the month of November 2021. (This) will bolster the coverage of its infrastructure with both arms and unarmed guards based on a recent security risk assessment report,” said Mbalula.

Reports from Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) show that between January and October 2021 there was over 600 reported cases of vandalism and theft a month, including the theft of over 1,000km of copper cable.

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