Ramaphosa 'happy' after two new Prasa trains unveiled

2019-04-09 17:18
President Cyril Ramaphosa at Cape Town train station where he observed the testing of two new train sets as part of Prada’s modernisation strategy.  (Kamva Somdyala, News24)

President Cyril Ramaphosa at Cape Town train station where he observed the testing of two new train sets as part of Prada’s modernisation strategy. (Kamva Somdyala, News24)

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"I am happy. You have made me happy by accelerating efforts to improve our railway system and infrastructure."

President Cyril Ramaphosa directed these words at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), at the unveiling of two new trains at Cape Town Station on Tuesday.

The two trains will be trial runs for Prasa's new modernisation programme aimed at revitalising the rail industry.

"Railway systems are the best modes of transport for people in our country and as we move towards growing our economy, we need to ensure that our railway infrastructure is at its best," said Ramaphosa.

The trial runs by Prasa will allow the agency to assess the state of readiness within Cape Town and to identify parts of the Metrorail system that will require modernisation.

Stuck in a train for 3 hours

Ramaphosa said he was pleased with the operation behind the building of these new trains and observed that at the factory visit he conducted, the majority of people working there were women.

"That was the good side of the railway system I saw," commented Ramaphosa. "Women were the majority of employees at the factory. The bad side was when I was stuck in a train for almost three hours [on an ANC campaign blitz in Pretoria last month]."

The train broke down between Mabopane and Bosman stations.

Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande at the launch, committed that his department will, by the end of 2020 have rolled out 35 more trains "in the Cape metro and the same number in the eThekwini metro". 

The programme aims to achieve local manufacturing of plants, maintenance, the establishment of training facilities, the achievement of 65% local content and training and skills development for Prasa employees and young people interested in the rail industry.

The United National Transport Union (Untu) said that Ramaphosa had given a personal undertaking to consider their demands concerning the safety of commuters and staff, and finding solutions for rebuilding the train network.

Their demands included that Ramaphosa should declare the current situation at Prasa a state of emergency so that the South African National Defence Force could be deployed to safeguard platforms and the infrastructure of Prasa.

"The President said he will consider the Unions demands and provide us with feedback,” said Untu deputy secretary general Sonja Carstens.

Meanwhile, outside the station, Unite Behind, a coalition of movements staged a protest. Placards they held suggested that the protest had to do with the state of trains in the province. 

Read more on:    prasa  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  cape town  |  transport  |  service delivery
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