“A lot still needs to happen, but I think we have achieved our goal for the summit by agreeing on a plan of action."
A series of drastic security measures costing around £5.5m (90m Rand) are being introduced across Cape Town’s transport system in a bid to improve rider safety on the South African city’s network, Metrorail Western Cape, which reportedly witnesses very high levels of crime. The three main approaches due to be instigated by the state operator of a majority of the country’s trains, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), are: two 15km-long bulletproof walls, to make safe a section of Cape Town’s central railway; drones with the single task of policing criminal activity on the network; a team of 1,500 security staff that is funded by half of the overall budget.
The major plans to overhaul the network’s safety procedures, which Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for transport‚ Brett Herron‚ wants to see “implemented as soon as possible”, have been announced after the murder of a security guard in a township area south east of the city, Khayelitsha. That murder came in the same week that a ticket officer was robbed, as reported in TimesLive.
Herron announced that South Africa’s second-most populous city will be contributing just under £1m (16m Rand) of the money and has asked the higher authorities to reprioritise projects. “I am grateful that we have agreed on a starting point to address the safety and security issues to stabilise the urban rail service in the short-term,” he said. “A lot still needs to happen, but I think we have achieved our goal for the summit by agreeing on a plan of action that can be implemented as soon as possible.”
Propping up that total, the acting head of Prasa said it would manage and deploy security staff, a measure he said amounted to £180,000 (3m Rand) a month. He also announced that the power of nature would be used to protect the general public from gunfire and fire by employing a variety of vegetation not from South African shores to create a near-impenetrable wall.
“The wall will be constructed with alien plant biomass and is fire-resistant‚ bulletproof‚ strong‚ quick to build‚ and cheaper than other options considered to date‚” said Swartz, who added that taking the unorthodox approach would save around £1.2m (20m Rand). Swartz did not give details on how long the construction of the plant-based wall would take.
Stating the financial and socio-economic cases for the work to go ahead, transport member of the executive council, Donald Grant, said: “Rail has the potential to provide rapid access to social and economic opportunities for a broad cross-section of society‚ contributing to an efficient‚ competitive and inclusive city.”
You may also be interested in these stories from Transport Security World…