Prasa to upgrade 'hazardous' station

Dane McDonald

Cape Town - The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has set aside funding to upgrade Gouda station in the Western Cape, after the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) declared it a “threat to safe railway operations”.

Prasa spokesperson Sipho Sithole told Fin24 on Friday that funding to upgrade Gouda station is on Prasa's "current year capital budget".
"Professional teams are working on designs for the station," he said.

Construction of the station's platforms and buildings will start in January 2016.

The RSR issued Prasa with a “prohibition directive” on August 24 to suspend operations at the station. The safety regulator found hazardous conditions which pose a “threat to safe railway operations”.

These included the height of the platform, lack of shelters and toilets, poor condition of the platform surface, lack of fencing, and insufficient lighting. RSR spokesperson Babalwa Mpendu told Fin24 earlier this week that people might lose jobs or be late for work and children might not be able to go to school if Prasa does not put interim measures in place.

“The commuters will face hardship,” she said.

Gouda railway station is serviced by Metrorail’s Boland Blitz, which runs once a day in both directions from Cape Town to Worcester, taking almost four hours.

Metrorail has since introduced a bus service between Gouda and Wellington for commuters travelling to and from Gouda station.

According to Sithole, no jobs are threatened by Gouda station's interim closure because it is "in effect not an operational station but a halt".

"Therefore no employees are affected by the closure of the station," said Sithole.
Prasa has come under increased scrutiny after the dismissal of its CEO Lucky Montana and the public protector’s recent report on widespread maladministration within the agency.