In an effort to protect the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA) rail infrastructure, government has introduced interventions to strengthen security for these public assets.
“The focus of the intervention seeks to manage the downward spiral resulting from rampant criminality through the implementation of crime prevention strategies, working with communities and stakeholders,” Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula said.
The Minister was speaking during the launch of the “People’s Responsibility to Protect” PR2P programme on Monday in Pretoria.
The programme is aimed at creating partnerships between PRASA and local communities living near railway lines. Communities will then provide a force multiplier additional to PRASA security in protecting rail infrastructure.
The first phase of the programme entails the rollout of a public engagement programme led by the PRASA Board. The second phase entails the training of volunteers to understand their roles in terms of the security and neighbourhood watch.
“They will also be trained on how to work with communities, with the police as well as PRASA Protection Services in an integrative manner that makes a telling difference.
“Upon completion of the security training, it is expected that the volunteers will be equipped with grade C Security Certificates accredited by the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority,” Mbalula said.
A total of 9 860 community based volunteers will partner with PRASA nationwide focusing specifically on stations and corridors experiencing the most crime.
“The volunteers, once rigorously trained and accepted, will assist in the reduction of crime and vandalism risk inside the trains, platforms, ticket offices, rail infrastructure and to protect rail commuters.
“Community volunteers will be in partnership with PRASA for a duration of 12 months and will undertake various key integration activities under the guidance of PRASA security,” the Minister said.
The third phase entails integration of a total of 20 volunteers from each station area in the 46 PRASA corridors.
A total of 1 500 police reservists will be deployed and trained across all 46 corridors.
“The long distance train corridors will exclusively make use of the existing Railway Police contingent. A total of 80 military veterans will be deployed in these 46 corridors, where they will be performing duties of corridor co-ordination,” Mbalula said.
The primary focus will be on the 16 functional corridors as the first phase of the implementation process.
“Facilitation of the deployment at stations, on the trains, on the platforms, across rail infrastructure and the outer perimeters of the rail precinct will be undertaken. This will be done concurrently with the integration of the volunteers, South African Police Service (SAPS) reservists, Community Police Forums, military veterans and PRASA Protection Services.”
The third phase also entails monitoring and evaluation of the interventions to determine if the project is realising its intended objectives.
It will also measure whether the project has made a tangible impact in the implementation of PRASA’s Crime Prevention and Security Strategies.