Prasa in Gauteng has employed hundreds of security guards who have been licensed to carry guns to fight vandalism and protect its trains and infrastructure. The move comes amid commuters' growing fury at poor service, and as the rail agency conceded it was unable to meet customer expectations.
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has deployed 241 gun-carrying security guards to 25 key Metrorail train stations in a bid to protect the rail agency's assets. The guards were deployed three weeks ago and will cost Prasa R38-million over the next 12 months.
According to the agency, more than 200 Metrorail coaches have been vandalised or burned since the beginning of 2018 and this had cost them about R80-million. It was against this backdrop and the need to enhance the safety of commuters, assets, staff and protect revenue that Prasa decided to deploy armed guards.
Prasa has come under increasing pressure from commuters who have been voicing their frustrations over trains that do not stick to schedules, fail to arrive, arrive late or get stuck along the route.
On a return trip from Pretoria on Tuesday, a train from Johannesburg to Vereeniging stopped as it left...