Cleaning up the railway

2019-03-05 06:00
Some of the collected items will be recycled. PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

Some of the collected items will be recycled. PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

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Rosebank residents in partnership with Metrorail rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty to clean the railway line on Sunday 24 February.

Rosebank railway is among a number of stations that have a record of being targeted by criminals. It is rarely well taken care of and this became evident during the clean-up initiative.

A pile of broken and suspected stolen cables were found in a small bush at the station. A Rondebosch railway station signage was also found hidden in the bush.

Residents expressed their displeasure at the seriousness of cable theft in the area, saying they were amazed that culprits ignored the risk posed by theft to their lives. They also said ongoing theft and vandalism cost the state and Metrorail a lot of money.

Discovering evidence of suspiciously illegal elements came as a shock as the focus was on picking up litter and cleaning the area, which went well as many refuse bags were full and various garbage was collected. The group also cleared excess vegetation within the railway .

Resident Joachim Nyoni says he has been part of the annual clean-up for years. He said it was surprising that despite awareness initiatives around illegal dumping and the impact it has on the environment and risks posed to trains and commuters, people still acted recklessly.

“We found a lot of plastic bottles and under harsh weather conditions it could be dangerous if a bottle gets hit by a moving train and likely to cause fire.”

Another resident, Randall Brown, adds that it is through such initiatives that criminal activities can be reduced. He called on more residents to join in order to make a difference in the community.

Residents have worked with Metrorail annually on similar initiatives.

Brown commended the residents and other stakeholders that took part in the initiative to ensure the campaign was a successes.

Riana Scott, the spokesperson for Metrorail, says: “Vegetation control and cleaning of railway reserves are done twice per annum, depending on resources and weather conditions permitting.”

Scott explained that cable theft is particularly serious in the central line.

She praised efforts by Metrorail Protection Services, Police Rapid Rail Response Unit and various private security contractors in reducing crime at the stations and on trains. She says hundreds of arrests have been made since March last year.

Scott says a Rail Enforcement Unit (REU) was launched last year by the National Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande and deployed on trains and stations which, she says, is a special security initiative funded by Prasa, the City of Cape Town and the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works to Support Railway Police in order to protect commuters, reduce crime and to reduce vandalism and particularly metal theft “for one year.”

“Their presence on the trains and stations has contributed to greater commuter obedience and discipline, ensuring order during crowd control which contributes to safer arrivals and departures of trains.”

She further explains that Prasa is working on a modernisation programme which will include modern station access, management systems and integrated ticketing system.

“The most effective way of ticket verification has proven to be roving teams at stations and on trains during shoulder and off-peaks hours. The introduction of this technology will assist to address access control more effectively.”

Mowbray Police Station commander Lieutenant Colonel Jairaj Ramesh adds that cable theft is a serious issue that affects everyone.

He says though there have no recent incidents reported they had cases reported last year and arrests were made.

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