The minister of the national Department of Transport, Fikile Mbalula together with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), administrator Bongisiwe Mpondo, held a briefing at Mabopane train station on Thursday, to outline plans to refurbish the Mabopane metro-rail line.
Mpondo said they will provide buses for six months as an interim solution.
“We planned to purchase about 80 commuter buses which would carry about 70 passengers, using the train station as a pick-up and drop-off points. Some of the buses will be purchased while some will be leased. ” said Bongisiwe Mpondo.
In 2019, Minister Mbalula and President Cyril Ramaphosa travelled on the same line in a train that subsequently got delayed due to cable theft.
According to Minister Mbalula and Mpondo the programmer comes after unpacking key aspects of the Cape Town Central line recovery programme in the Western Cape and committed to do the same in Gauteng.
The Minister has made Prasa a priority area describing the entity as broken and in urgent need of fixing by closing the station.
“The approach we take today is to close the station, we talked with people here and took decisive action. This station will be closed and we’ll recover the place. Whilst we do that it meanswe must make sacrifices . Trains are a mode of transport affordable for people in Mabopane because taxis are expensive.”, said Mbalula.
A resident of Mabopane Vick Mdingane said Prasa failed commuters as they now struggle with taxi fare.
“Thieves stole trains cables and now we are struggling with transport fare, no train is operating, most businesses are no longer operating, and the train station has now turned into drug spot. In the interim the promised 80 buses must be provided to commuters” said Mdingane.
Another resident from Soshanguve Block S, Siphiwe Mutale said “I hope that Prasa provides jobs to local residents on this upcoming project so we can see a reduction in unemployment numbers” said Mutale.
The minister said the project is expected to be completed by April 2021.