Durban – As KwaZulu-Natal enters its third week since the devastating floods of April 23, passenger trains remain at a standstill across the province, grounded by damage to rail infrastructure.
The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) said it expected to resume services after the elections.
Regional manager Dumi Dube said the suspension of operations was because of fallen trees and mud slides on their rail network.
“It’s been 24/7 work by Prasa and engineers to make sure they speed up fixing the affected areas.
"Prasa KZN executive members hold meetings on a daily basis to discuss the mitigating factors and strategies to speed up the process of getting all the required resources to do the repairs in the areas affected,” he said.
Dube said the clearing and repairing of some corridors was about to be completed, and other corridors would be completed soon. “Where we do not finish on time, we will try to come up with other ways of assisting our commuters so we can ease the burden of travelling longer distances to get to work,” he said.
Dube said they had some concerns in some of the corridors where people dumped rubbish on railways. This made these areas inaccessible.
“Communities where residents live close to our lines – these include places like Zwelethu, KwaMashu, Burlington and Bottlebrush – are a big concern and safety hazard,” said Dube.
“This behaviour might lead to Prasa not being able to render services in some of the areas because of communities not respecting the rail, which puts commuters at risk as well,” he said.
In February this year it emerged that Prasa had spent more than R500 million on damage caused by arson attacks on its coaches by irate commuters. The agency also had to pay for damage caused by vandals.
While there were no figures available on Monday on the cost of the flood damage, Prasa spokesperson Zama Nomnganga said insurance inspectors had performed an assessment with Prasa engineers.
“Costs will be covered by our insurance. The damages caused include tracks that were eroded by mud slides,” he said.
“In the meantime, to manage the cost of human resources, those who work directly with customers are given some time off and controllers are also given time off. Only management is at work as they are part of the recovery plan group,” said Nomnganga.
“There are no alternative modes of transport planned for now as this was a disaster and not planned, but our commuters are kept in the loop,” he said.
Nomnganga said areas that were still being repaired included Crossmoor, Chatsworth and Zwelithini in Umlazi.
“The area which will take at least three more weeks to be fixed is the South Coast, which is still getting repairs due to floods after heavy rains in 2017.”