South Africa


Fikile Mbalula sticks to December deadline to fully open Cape Town’s Metrorail Central Line

Fikile Mbalula sticks to December deadline to fully open Cape Town’s Metrorail Central Line
Acting Prasa CEO Hishaam Emeran and acting transport Director-General Ngwako Makaepea (seated) with representatives of the railway occupiers at the signing of a “social compact” on Thursday. (Photo: Tariro Washinyira)

An agreement has been signed with communities occupying the railway line.

Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula says government is sticking to its December deadline to fully open the Metrorail Cape Town Central Line and once again provide trains between Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Philippi and Khayelitsha.

At Langa train station on Thursday, he addressed leaders from informal settlements located on the railway reserve in Langa, Philippi and Khayelitsha. This was at an event to sign an agreement for their relocation.

On 13 May, the communities had vowed not to move until Mbalula signed a “social compact” with plans and time frames for their relocation. This was because the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) had previously made various commitments it never kept.

In a statement, Prasa said: “The objective of the social compact is to create mutual communication, collaboration and decision making.”

Mbalula denounced criminal behaviour for delaying the restoration of the line. A video widely circulated on social media recently showed armed men demanding protection fees from Prasa subcontractors.

“The state must intervene and police must put its special forces to guard the tracks,” said Mbalula.

He said there were unspent funds and the new acting CEO Hishaam Emeran must “spend the money” to get the line open.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Philip Mnisi, from Philippi, said, “We want the trains to operate again … but as community leaders, we also have a duty to secure relocation places for our people.”

He said communities around the areas where Prasa intended to relocate the railway line occupiers were against them moving in. He blamed racial tensions between coloured and black people.

“We pray the minister will help to get the issue resolved. These people still have the apartheid mentality,” he said.

Housing Development Agency (HDA) regional manager Mbulelo Ncedana said they were still to consult with the receiving communities, which can only happen after the City of Cape Town consents to the development and completes internal processes and various public engagements.

“Langa railway occupiers will be moving to Philippi … We anticipate to conclude land procurement for the people of Philippi and Khayelitsha before the end of the year,” he said.

Once the busiest line, the Central Line was completely closed in October 2019. In February 2021, it started operating again but only as far as Langa. In July, a partial service restarted on the Pinelands to Bellville via Langa, Bontheuwel and Belhar. DM

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.