South Africa’s Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa) has complained of losing over R330 million in less than a year to vandalism, arson and worst still, theft of its cables.
Prasa reported this adding that about 20 of its trains worth R200 million, has been tourched between April and May.
Prasa’s acting group CEO, Nathi Khena, also said alongside the staggering figure, the agency suffers lots of damages with Western Cape having the highest damage so far amounting to almost R120 million, followed by Gauteng with R90 million.
Some commuters burned several trains this year, laying accusing fingers on drivers who they claim are always late to take them to their work places.
Khena however believes that these acts derail the parastatal from delivering services.
“Every time we take 10 steps forward, they destroy assets and it takes us back by 20 steps.” he said.
“We have a serious fear that if it continues like this we’ll be introducing and exposing all that investment to destruction that we’re experiencing at a present moment.”
Meanwhile Prasa’s first new trains are expected to enter service in Pretoria in October following a multibillionrand contact signed between Gibela and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
Speaking at a pre-Africa Rail event in Sandton, PRASA strategic asset development group executive Piet Sebola on Monday that the first new blue and grey passenger trains, replacing the yellow and grey Metrorail sets, would run on the line between Pretoria and Pienaarspoort.
This would be followed by the Pretoria – Saulsville line, then the Pretoria – Johannesburg line.
“By January next year we will have only new trains on that line. It will be about eight sets, with one set spare.” he added.
“As we are talking, we have six train sets on our shores, the factory is under construction and a new training centre will open at the same site. Everything is on track.”
The agency took to this upgrade to increase revenue generation at the station, to generate additional commercial opportunities and to improve the customer experience.
Sebola however noted that PRASA would run the old Metrorail train sets for roughly another ten years, to ensure that the company had “the critical mass” necessary to support its customers.
He said the new sets will finally take over by around 2027 as the old train sets were still being refurbished at a cost of around R2-billion a year. Metrorail currently transported around 2.2-million people a day, said Sebola.