South Africa


Prasa lets stations fall to ruin on Pretoria-Pienaarspoort line

Prasa lets stations fall to ruin on Pretoria-Pienaarspoort line
Mears station on the Pretoria-Pienaarspoort line has been vandalised and stripped bare. (Photo: Ezekiel Kekana)

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa claims it will rebuild and reopen the stations this year.

Trains on the Pretoria-Pienaarspoort line pass stations that are ghosts of their former selves – Mears, Walker, Devenish and Loftus. These stations have been left to ruin by Prasa and it will cost millions to fix them.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, the stations had been vandalised and were no longer operational. Abandoned during lockdown, they were further stripped of doors, window frames, benches, almost anything made of steel and electrical cables. Even bricks have been removed from the walls.

There are no security guards on duty to protect what is left, nor are there any signs that the stations are cleaned.

At Mears a heap of rubbish and tall grass greet one outside what was once the ticket booth. Rubbish is strewn around and fires have been made inside.

The platform at Mears station. (Photo: Ezekiel Kekana)

Although trains are running between Pretoria (Bosman) and Mamelodi (Pienaarspoort) after a two-year stoppage, without stations people from Sunnyside, Hatfield and Arcadia cannot access the trains.

“I have used that train for many years, and it hurts that we are forced to use taxis now because we have no station here in Sunnyside,” says Johnny Madisha, who lives near Mears.

Seriously affected are students from Mamelodi and Tembisa who depended on Mears and Loftus stations to get to Unisa and the University of Pretoria.

Millicent Matinketsa, who studies at Unisa, saidL: “It is very sad… because taking a train from Bosman to Mears was also good for safety.”

Many hawkers too, who used to sell their wares at the stations, especially Mears, feel the loss. Some have moved onto the streets, but as a result have fallen foul of the Tshwane Metro police.

The entrance to Mears station. (Photo: Ezekiel Kekana)

Prasa spokesperson Andiswa Makanda said the stations are on “one of Prasa’s priority corridors” and will be “reconstructed”.

Makanda claimed that a team of professionals, including quantity surveyors and architects, had been appointed to plan the reconstruction of the stations.

Prasa would begin reconstruction in May and the stations would reopen in September.

In the past year, GroundUp has reported on train stations stripped bare, such as at Mitchells Plain, some stripped to the bone, such as at Netreg, left in ruins in Cape Town, abandoned and vandalised in the Eastern Cape, and reduced to rubble on the East Rand. DM

Ezekiel Kekana is an Open Society Foundation Fellow at Wits University.

First published by GroundUp.



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