The safety of commuters is non-negotiable and paramount to government, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has stressed following yesterday's train accident in Soweto.
The passenger train collision took place in Soweto at approximately 17h50 yesterday (Thursday, 19 May 2011) afternoon, when a Metrorail train travelling from Mzimhlophe Station towards Phomolong station in Orlando collided with a stationary Soweto Business Express train. The collision resulted in multiple injuries. No fatalities have been reported.
"The mandate of the Department of Transport is to ensure the provision of safe, efficient and reliable public transport, and the safety of passengers is non-negotiable," Minister Ndebele said. "The passenger train collision in Soweto yesterday (19 May 2011) afternoon is unfortunate, and we wish those injured a speedy recovery. The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) is investigating the cause of the collision.
"We have been receiving regular updates on the accident from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) Group CEO Mr. Lucky Montana who together with other senior Prasa Executives were also on the scene of the collision yesterday. We have made it clear to Prasa that the safety of commuters cannot be compromised, and have been assured that Prasa has implemented short-term and long-term measures to strengthen rail safety across the country. Prasa will be convening an internal national train operations safety indaba in Pretoria tomorrow (21 May 2011) to review safety in the passenger rail environment. More than R30 billion is being spent from April 2011 to 2014 on the upgrading of the passenger rail system, with more than R19.5 billion being spent on improvements to infrastructure and signaling systems," said Minister Ndebele.
Multi-billion rand improvements by government to transport infrastructure over the next two years are guaranteed to radically change the way South Africans travel. Amounting to R66 billion over the next year, and rising to R80 billion by 2013/14, the improvements are set to also create numerous job and tourism opportunities. The improvements will be spread across the country with both urban and rural parts set to benefit.
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