Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has blamed the damage to rail infrastructure across the country on a decision taken to remove security companies from various sites.
Repairs to the infrastructure are expected to cost in excess of R2 billion.
On Monday, during his site visit to the Kliptown train station in Soweto, Mbalula admitted no contingency plan was in place when the decision was made to remove the security companies.
“You know the decision that was taken about security companies at Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of SA) without a contingency plan, to say, if you take out security because of illegal contracts, how do you then protect the infrastructure? That is something that was required and it was not done,” Mbalula said.
He noted that several stations had been vandalised and had become havens for drug users and other criminals. Cables and train tracks have been stolen at some stations, including at Mayfair station.
The Association of Private Security Owners of SA (Tapsosa) said they had warned the Department of Transport and the Department of Public Enterprises against removing the security companies early last year.
Tapsosa spokesperson Sindisiwe Changuion said they wrote to the departments and the respective portfolio committees to try and block that process, which they deemed unlawful.
“As the private security owners of South Africa, we cautioned the Department of Transport, and Public Enterprises, in the early part of the lockdown last year that Prasa and another state-owned entities had embarked on a process of removing security companies from their sites,” Changuion said.
“Government has lost billions of rand from the damage of rail infrastructure as pointed out by Minister Mbalula this morning (Monday), which could have been easily avoided.”
Mbalula, however, said part of the reason why some security contracts were terminated was because service providers were appointed without due process being followed.
Tapsosa dismissed that, saying their members had been awarded contracts on merit.
Changuion said the process of removing them from sites was unlawful and questioned the motive behind it.
“The process of dismissing our members was illegal and the departments in question did very little to intervene.
“It was mainly our members who were guarding this rail infrastructure and it’s shocking that the decision to move us out coincided with an orchestrated attack from the bargaining council and its founding members who have been trying to push us out of business as black-owned security companies,” she said.
Mbalula is set to unveil a plan to repair damaged rail infrastructure.