The City of Cape Town has started with the recruitment of rail enforcement officers as part of its efforts to address the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure.

The City’s mayor committee approved the appointment of 100 law enforcement officers who will serve in the dedicated Rail Enforcement Unit earlier this month.

Brett Herron, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, says the City’s Safety and Security Directorate has been talking to the various rail entities about placing our Law Enforcement officers on trains for a number of years.

“This approval by the City’s Mayoral Committee cannot have happened soon enough. Our urban rail service is under siege with numerous arson attacks the past few weeks. The Rail Enforcement Unit must be operational as soon possible, and they must hit the ground running,” he says.

According to Herron Metrorail’s train fleet in the Western Cape has lost a staggering 149 carriages from May 2015 to date, with the cost of the last two arson attacks alone amounting to R51 million.

A focus on Metrorail infrastructure and assets

The project is being jointly funded by the City, The Western Cape Government and the Passenger Rail Service of South Africa.  It will cost approximately R47.9 million to establish and operate the unit for a period of 12 months.

Commenting on the unit the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith says apart from commuter safety and vandalism, the unit will focus on the theft of crucial Metrorail infrastructure and assets.

“The unit’s members will rely on technology and predictive analytics, and will support the South African Police Service to identify those who are involved in the illicit metals theft industry. Given the state of the rail network, it goes without saying that this will be a top priority for us. It is something that we have touted for many years and is desperately needed,” Smith notes.

The ultimate goal is to address the safety and security issues in an effort to stabilise the urban rail service in the short term.