- Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is adamant the Central Line in Cape Town will be fully operational by the end of July this year.
- Mbalula assessed the progress being made on upgrades to Metrorail's Northern Line in Cape Town on Monday morning.
- The Central Line, serving the largest portion of Cape Town's population, is not fully operational after closing in 2019.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says Metrorail's Central Line in Cape Town will be fully operational by the end of July this year.
It came after most of the corridors, including the Central Line, were shut down.
"I have no doubt that we will meet the deadline to return the Central Line to full service by the end of July 2022, while we continue with the resignalling project," he said.
Mbalula was speaking at a press briefing on Monday following a whirlwind inspection of the Cape Town Northern Line and the Western Cape Rail Management and Traffic Control Centre in Bellville.
Mbalula assessed the progress being made on upgrades to Metrorail's Northern Line. The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) embarked on a series of station upgrades in preparation for the resumption of train services on the line.
"The bigger work remains the recovery of the Central Line Presidential Project. We are currently in the midst of implementing phase 1 of the Central Line recovery to introduce the Langa to Cape Town service via Pinelands. This is to allow for the relocation of illegal settlements on the rail tracks," he said.
The Central Line serves the largest portion of Cape Town's population and has not been fully operational since closing in 2019.
The closure was due to cable theft and vandalism. The occupation of shacks erected on the railway lines in Langa and Philippi have also hampered efforts to restart train services on the Central Line.
"I am satisfied that the infrastructure upgrades are on track to salvage a dilapidated a network that has been brought to its knees by criminal conduct. These upgrades will be reinforced by a security model that relies on tight collaboration with law enforcement authorities and intelligence services to ensure effective protection of these public assets," the minister said.
Kaparo Molefi, Prasa corporate real estate solutions regional manager, said the issue around the Central Line was related to relocating illegal occupants.
"The relocation at the Langa station and the issue of land become central, and what we have is an intergovernmental implementation protocol which the City of Cape Town is part of. We are dealing [with] a human settlement problem that has become a railway issue. Two pieces of state land has been allocated for the relocation," he said.
Molefi said 22 hectares of land located in the Eerste River area have been allocated for the relocation.
"The relocation was supposed to happen in November but then we received some challenges from the community, and we had to engage with them further," he said.
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