Cape Town – Transport bosses extended the deployment of the Rail Enforcement Unit (REU) in the province for 12 more months.
The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, the Passenger Rail Service of South Africa (PRASA) and the City of Cape Town have affirmed their commitment to the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure by extending with a new Memorandum of Agreement will terminate on June 30 next year.
Early Wednesday morning the Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, PRASA’s acting Group Chief Executive Officer Nkosinathi Sishi and the City’s Mayco Members for Transport, Felicity Purchase, and Safety and Security, JP Smith, met the new recruits during a parade at the Cape Town Station.
Madikizela said It was not often that all three spheres of government get to collaborate in this manner and the pilot year presented some challenges and initial teething problems.
He said he was delighted that "we" have been able to conclude a new agreement that will see the REU officers on the beat for at least another 12 months.
"This is a clear signal to our residents and commuters that we are committed to improving the safety and security on the trains and at the stations," Madikizela said.
Smith said the unit will remain at a force strength of 100 officers. "Although some of the members are new recruits, the majority of the REU’s officers have gained a lot of experience during the first pilot period which will assist in fine tuning operations and making the unit even more efficient and effective".
"Within the first few days back on the ground, the City’s Law Enforcement officers made an arrest for cable theft when they confiscated 20 meters of railway signal cable. The REU is a force to be reckoned with and their successes and impact speak volumes. In the pilot stages of the REU 1,8 km of copper cable and 824 kg of stolen metal was impounded.
"The City is being approached by more entities who are concluding agreements for Law Enforcement staff to support and safeguard their operations, with Golden Arrow Bus Service the latest one to join. This creates exciting new possibilities for collaboration," Smith said.
Purchase said the unit’s presence will go a long way in improving the safety and security of our rail commuters. Urban rail should be the backbone of public transport in Cape Town and commuters’ mode of choice.
"It is cheaper and more efficient than any road-based transport, but then our commuters should feel safe in the coaches and at the stations, and they should have confidence in the service by knowing that they will arrive at their destinations on time, without any cancellations or delays."
"It will make a huge difference if we can restore commuters’ faith in our urban rail service – not only will residents save a lot of money, but it will also assist us to alleviate traffic congestion which has become much worse as more commuters are now travelling by road to get to work," Purchase said.
During their meeting and train travel Sishi noted the inconvenience to Metrorail customers as a result of the vandalism.
"Our customers deserve a reliable and safe train service and we will stop at nothing to bring criminals to book who prevent us delivering a much needed service to our commuters. The destruction of government property, including PRASA infrastructure, is an affront to the rule of law. This partnership goes beyond passenger rail services, but demonstrates how government can work together to fight crime and protect its assets and its citizens, " Sishi said.