SA's train problems by the numbers and Nzimande's plan to solve them

Despite 6 638 security personnel working in four regions across South Africa, 24 trains and 289 coaches have been vandalised or been victim to theft between October 2018 and February 2019, according to Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande.

This emerged in Ndzimande's responses to three parliamentary questions posed to the minister by two members of Parliament.

The minister said the "majority of the vandalism is theft of copper and aluminium train parts which has a high monetary value at scrap dealers".

He added that "another challenge is stone throwing at trains en-route on certain corridors".

Nzimande also said the government planned to add 2 284 new coaches in Gauteng, 1 835 in the Western Cape, 938 in KwaZulu-Natal and 228 in the Eastern Cape to ensure that Metrorail operates at "optimum capacity".

In addition, 1 512 coaches are planned for expansion of the network, over the longer term Nzimande confirmed in response to EFF MP Ntombovuyo Veronica Mente, who asked for the number of carriages Metrorail needs to reach optimum capacity.

Stone throwing

In a parliamentary reply to DA MP Chris Hunsinger, who asked about measures that have been put in place to deal with vandalism and destruction of rail infrastructure, Nzimande responded that "in each region, security personnel are deployed to combat theft and vandalism".

Nzimande continued that in the four regions "a total complement of 3 060 protective service personnel have been deployed, supported by 3 578 external security service providers".

In Cape Town, where a spate of train attacks and arson has bedevilled the city's commuters, Nzimande noted that "further reinforcement in the form of drones and forensic support have been added as part of a pilot project".

READ: Search for train arson attackers must be intensified-Nzimande

Nzimande added that "this has proven successful and plans are afoot to roll out this project to Gauteng in the next financial year".

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and the City of Cape Town have also entered into a partnership that will provide an additional 100 security personnel in high-risk areas.

To bolster security in the future, Nzimande stated that his department planned to roll out security fencing, CCTV, alarms, fire detection and intrusion detection for all substations.

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