Rail Enforcement Unit to prioritise safety and security of Metrorail commuters for another year

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CAPE TOWN, September 18 – The deployment of the Rail Enforcement Unit (REU) that prioritises the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure in Cape Town has been extended for another year.

On Wednesday morning, Western Cape Transport and Public Works MEC, Bonginkosi Madikizela, Passenger Rail Service of South Africa (Prasa) acting group chief executive, Nkosinathi Sishi and the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee members for Transport, and Safety and Security, Felicity Purchase and JP Smith, met the new recruits during a parade at the Cape Town Station.

The new memorandum of agreement will terminate on June 30 next year, according to a joint statement by the provincial Transport and Public Works, the City and Prasa.

Since its inception in October last year, the REU has acted as a force multiplier for Prasa’s regional protection services unit. Together, the teams have ensured greater operational visibility on trains and stations, searching more individuals during joint operations, and confiscating a greater number of dangerous weapons and fraudulent train tickets.

“It is 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. That said, I’m 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.

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, the statement said.

“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 kilometers of copper cable and 824 kilograms 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.

The extension of the pilot period for another year is also timeous as the festive season is approaching.

“The REU’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,” Purchase said.

“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 traveling by road to get to work,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport,” she added.

Commenting on the effect of theft on the system, 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 from 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,” he said.

– African News Agency (ANA)