This statement follows a Metrorail train ride by the DA Shadow Minister of Transport, Manny de Freitas MP and DA KZN Spokesperson on Transport and Chatsworth Constituency Head, Rafeek Shah MPL.
Today, DA public representatives travelled with fellow commuters from the Crossmoor train station in Chatsworth to the Durban station to highlight the current lack of safety of rail transportation in South Africa.
Commuters at the Crossmoor station complained about the chronic delays they are forced to deal with just trying to get to work when travelling to Durban because most of the trains are assigned to other stations.
The decision to allocate trains elsewhere means that commuters from Crossmoor are at risk of losing their jobs as they often can’t make it to work on time. School children who use the same trains also often miss out on the first lessons of the day.
Other commuters, spoke about the lack of safety and said they have completely lost faith in the country’s railway services.
It’s a serious indictment on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and the entire ANC government that commuters are continuously put at risk and have been failed by the railway system. There is little to no accountability nor the political will to turn things around.
The rail system remains by far the most affordable mode of transport and when commuters are failed by the system in this manner, they are left with very few alternatives to get to work or to look for work.
With the hike in fuel prices and the rising cost of living, it is increasingly difficult for commuters to find affordable alternatives to get to work or school on time.
Our interactions with Chatsworth train commuters paints a grim picture of millions of South African train commuters across the country who are subjected to an unreliable public railway system by an uncaring ANC government.
The DA has designed a rail plan that will create a safe and well-managed railway system which put commuters first and will ensure job security. The plan is based on four aspects:
- Stabilising and modernising the current rail system
The Public Protector report, “Derailed”, exposed the failure of governance at PRASA and the direct impact of loss of public confidence. An urgent update is required to ascertain the progress on upgrading the current signal system to phase out manual signal to prevent further crashes and derailment.
2. Merge Transnet and PRASA under the Department of Transport
This means all rail-related passenger and freight services should become the direct responsibility of the Minister of Transport. This will streamline decision making and improve planning and integration.
3. Ceding control of Metrorail services to Metros
This process will see Metropolitan governments take over Metrorail functions gradually which will ensure integrated public transportation systems and better governance. The Western Cape Government and the City have already committed additional security personal thus ensuring increased protection of commuters and infrastructure at risk.
4. Diversifying Ownership
While the state should retain ownership of the infrastructure, the DA calls for the gradual privatisation of some railway operations. This will increase competition and choice for transportation in the rail sector.
The DA’s plan is the only alternative to the ANC’s broken public railway transportation system. Our rail plan will put commuters first and ensure job security because it will be safe, efficient and corruption free.
We are committed to empowering South African public transport commuters and ensuring that the rail transportation system puts the safety of South Africans first, ensures that South Africans keep their jobs and are able to use trains to find work.