Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says the department is working tirelessly to return to service passenger rail operations.
The Minister said this when he tabled the department’s Budget Vote to a mini plenary of the National Assembly on Friday.
“The impact of the COVID-19 restrictions exposed the vulnerability of our network, resulting in occupation of the rail reserve by people who built illegal settlements on the tracks and inside the reserve.
“This was further exacerbated by the wanton destruction, theft and vandalism of our infrastructure.
“All hands are now on deck, working tirelessly to return to service passenger rail operations.
“Our security interventions, which are a product of collaboration with our law enforcement and intelligence authorities are bearing fruit,” he said.
Going into specific projects, Mbalula said on the Central Line in Cape Town, work is underway to upgrade infrastructure to enable the deployment of the new trains.
“Earlier this year, we resumed a limited service, but remain hamstrung by the settlements on the rail line and reserve.
“We have been working tirelessly with the Ministers of Human Settlements as well as Public Works and Infrastructure, the Western Cape Provincial Government and the City of Cape Town to resettle the people on the reserve.
“We are confident that we will achieve the resettlement soon in order to complete the infrastructure upgrades and restore the rail service.”
Mbalula said notwithstanding the challenges in this corridor, the department is working round the clock to ensure that all infrastructure projects are completed on time for the full resumption of service with the deployment of the new trains at the end of January 2022.
“On the Mabopane corridor, infrastructure upgrades are also underway.
“The completion of Phase 1 of the upgrades will enable the resumption of a limited service at the end of November 2021. The resumption of the full service is planned for early December 2021.”
Interventions to improve services at Driving Licence testing centres
Mbalula said the department has been paying particular attention to the challenges confronting Driving Licence Testing Centres across the country, and the impact these have on the livelihoods of those who require these services to put bread on the table.
He said the department has also taken heed of the plethora of complaints by members of the public, civil society and political parties and that it is taking decisive action to address the issues raised.
“The end-game of our interventions is improved service delivery and enhanced efficiency in the functioning of DLTCs, free of corruption.
“We have engaged as the three spheres of government and have agreed on a range of measures that will address the most pressing challenges relating to driver and vehicle licensing.
“These include longer operating hours, use of technology to eliminate queues and the introduction of an online interface for optometrist and medical practitioners to upload on the eNatis the eye test results.
“This is part of a process to allow motorists to employ the services of an optometrist of their own choice for eye tests.”