Business Insider Edition

Here’s why Prasa thinks spending R6.5 billion building walls will make it money right away

James de Villiers , Business Insider SA
 Oct 15, 2019, 08:45 PM
Photo: Thapelo Maphakela
  • Prasa is planning to spend R6.5 billion over three years to fence railways in urban areas using concrete.
  • It said the fencing will reduce vandalism on train lines – and force people to pay for tickets.
  • This, Prasa said, will likely lead to an increase of R4.6 billion in revenue every year. 
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The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) plans to spend R6.5 billion to fence railways in urban areas with concrete, in a bid to improve its revenue. 

The state-owned business is facing an uphill battle to improve finances, with a loss of approximately R1.8 billion for the financial year.

The head of Prasa's "war room", Sipho Sithole, told Business Insider South Africa that vandalism is one of its biggest obstacles.

Because various railway lines in metropolitan areas are unfenced, people steal the copper from the railways, or use Prasa’s train services for free.  

To address this the state-owned entity is planning to spend the R6.5 billion over three years to fence railway lines in urban areas with concrete blocks, Sithole said. 

Also read: Prasa says SA’s passenger trains are 15% more reliable than they were just 8 weeks ago – and promises things will only get better

The concrete blocks will be difficult to break down and use again, say for building informal housing, and so promises to be a lasting solution. 

When lines are successfully fenced, Prasa expects that revenues will increase by R4.6 billion a year as commuters will no longer be able to use the service for free by jumping off before stations where tickets are checked, now a regular occurrence. 

Fences will also lead to a decline in vandalism which will reduce delays caused by signalling cables being stolen, Prasa believes. 

“We will then be able to start recovering all the passengers we’ve lost over the years, and start making rail the transport of choice,” Sithole said. 

Prasa’s head of tech Mava Xolo said tenders for the fencing for the Metrorail railways should go out by the end of the year. 

Thereafter it should take between 12 to 18 months to fence off entire sections of the Prasa railways in metropolitan areas. 

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