Efforts proposed by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to protect rail infrastructure include military veterans working with railway police on long distance train corridors.
It is one of a number of interventions to strengthen security for the “public assets” of physical infrastructure including rails, electronic switching equipment, pylons and towers, buildings and the millions of kilometres of cabling comprising the national rail network.
Mbalula did not go into any great detail on the use of military veterans apart from saying 80 of them will be deployed in 47 long distance rail corridors according to SAnews, the government news agency.
“Long distance train corridors will exclusively make use of the existing Railway Police contingent. A total of 80 military veterans will be deployed in these 46 corridors, where they will be performing duties of corridor co-ordination,” Mbalula is reported as saying at the launch of the “People’s Responsibility to Protect” (PR2P) programme in Pretoria.
The programme, according to SAnews, aims to create partnerships between the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) and local communities near railway lines. Communities will provide an additional force multiplier for PRASA security to protect rail infrastructure.
Phase one will see a roll-out of PRASA-led public engagement programme followed by training of volunteers in both security and neighbourhood watch operations.
All told PRASA aims to bring 9 860 volunteers on board for PR2P and they will “partner” with the rail transport agency focussing on rail stations and corridors where high crime levels are the order of the day.
“The volunteers, once rigorously trained and accepted, will assist in reducing crime and vandalism inside trains, on platforms, at ticket offices and rail infrastructure as well as protect rail commuters,” the Minister is reported as saying.