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Traders sell goods on the railway in Mamelodi

Parts of the railway line in Mamelodi have been converted into commercial spaces because the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) has failed to keep a promise to clean up the stations.

In August we reported on the dilapidated state of train stations in Pretoria. At the time, PRASA said train stations would be operational by the end of March 2022 and stations would be renovated by December 2022.

But on a recent visit to Pienaarspoort train station, we found dozens of informal traders selling goods right next to the track. Motorists and pedestrians, including young children from neighboring informal settlements, also often cross the tracks that do not have safety barriers or signals.

Most casual traders say they wait for the train’s whistle to move their goods and disappear off the track.

“I have been selling goods here for years. We are used to selling next to the track, because a lot of people come to and from the station here,” says fruit seller Oupa Jiyane. “They sometimes send guards to chase us away.”

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Train services through Mamelodi have recently resumed after being shut down for more than a year during the Covid lockdown. During this period, Metrorail’s infrastructure was severely damaged by theft and vandalism.

Currently there are only two trains on the Mamelodi route, one scheduled at 5am and another at 3:30pm. The train no longer stops in Sunnyside, Arcadia and Hatfield, leaving hundreds of commuters frustrated and excluding those who previously relied on train service.

Inside the Pienaarspoort station was very dirty and most of the toilets were broken or unusable. The public benches were rusted and broken.

Stations in Mears, Rissik, Walker, Devinish and Loftus also remain heavily vandalized and appear to be out of operation.

Attempts to get PRASA to respond were unsuccessful as the phone of the spokesman, Andiswa Makanda, goes unanswered.

This article first appeared on GroundUp and has been republished with permission. Read the original article here

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