20 October 2017

South Africa: More Civil Society Voices Call for Action By Prasa

About 50 members and supporters of Public Transport Voice (PTV) marched through Cape Town train station to protest the deteriorating state of the railway system.

Dalton Ndongeni, spokesperson for PTV, said train carriages have broken windows and the doors do not function. He said since 2014, the organisation has been engaging with PRASA unsuccessfully.

In a memorandum PTV, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Right2Know demand better communication about train delays, easier access to purchase train tickets, visible security and more train carriages.

Nompumelelo Njana, a commuter from Khayelitsha who was at the protest, said sometimes her children don't make it to school on time. She said people were also mugged because trains stopped some distance from stations and people had to walk. This was how her child came to be robbed of her shoes.

The memorandum from the organisations states: "Public transport in South Africa has been neglected and unreliable for many years and the delay in addressing this issue has created an inaccessible and inefficient system".

Richard Walker, PRASA Regional Manager, arrived to receive and sign the memorandum.

"We are very much aware as PRASA of the challenges that you are facing on daily," he told the protesters.

"When kids need to get to school, people need to get to work, the sick need to get to hospitals, and we know that people don't have the disposable income for any other alternative means of transport. We need to make sure that the trains work," said Walker.

"We just arrested two suspects that were busy setting a train set alight last night ... Most of our signal equipment there has been destroyed," he said.

Walker said it was so dangerous working on the rails that PRASA staff had to be escorted by police. He also said that extra coaches will be brought in.

"The biggest problem with PRASA is corruption," said Michael Hamnca, district organiser for the TAC.

The Public Transport Voice (PTV) has given PRASA 14 days to respond.

See also: Watch what happens when trains are delayed

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