South Africa: R900 Million to Combat Rail Theft, Vandalism

President Cyril Ramaphosa says R900 million is to be spent to fund a PRASA Security Plan to combat theft and vandalism.

He said this when he responded to oral questions at the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.

"As we mobilise resources for a substantial investment in commuter rail infrastructure as part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, we are taking decisive measures to improve security on these lines.

"The National Treasury has granted approval of R900 million for the implementation of the PRASA Security Plan to combat theft and vandalism of the rail infrastructure.

"Part of the plan is to immediately appoint security personnel and to deploy remotely piloted aircraft systems to conduct virtual patrols of high-risk infrastructure. This capability will work together with specialised investigations and armed response," he said.

The President's remarks come at the back of continuous damage, sabotage, theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure, which he described as one of the worst forms of economic crime in the country.

Briefing members of the NCOP, the President said these acts have a direct impact on the lives of the millions of South Africans who rely on commuter rail services to travel to work or to study.

He said it also undermines economic growth and places a further strain on public resources.

"The plan will also involve the creation of an internal security capability for armed response, control room operations and increasing the number of physical security officials."

He said this work has already commenced.

As part of this, an e-guarding solution will be introduced for the protection of mission critical assets -such as substations, relay rooms and communication sites - with early warning security technology and defensive security systems.

He said the plan will also introduce specialised investigations with legal support and access to criminal laboratories.

"We believe this capability will improve the quality of investigation reports leading to an improved prosecution rate.

"As we substantially improve security measures on the commuter rail network, our most effective defence against such crimes is the vigilance of rail users and their active involvement in the effort to protect this vital national resource.

"We call on all South Africans to take a stand against these types of crime, and be part of the effort to build a public transport that is safe, reliable and affordable."

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