The Gautrain has been traveling since the beginning of level 4 of the national Covid-19 restriction, but other trains with level 3 coming into operation on Monday will still remain at the station.
This is because the beleaguered Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is not yet ready to resume train services, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said at a media conference in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.
He talked about the transport regulations that will apply at level 3.
Mbalula says everything is possible to get Prasa back to an “acceptable level of readiness” as soon as possible.
Hopefully this will happen on July 1st and some services will resume.
Mbalula says Prasa – over which there have been very serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement over the past few years – had had serious problems long before the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic.
“It does not help us open the train service just to help spread the coronavirus,” the minister said.
“The challenge with transporting people at level 3 of the restriction is to find the balance between mobility and prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading further.”
He says it is important that the management of Prasa be corrected to provide a reliable train service to the people of the country. Although many thousands of South Africans normally travel to and from work by train, Prasa is not currently in a position to operate Metrorail properly.
The plan is to make plans in June so that trains run from July 1 between Pretoria and Pienaarspoort; Cape Town and Simon’s Town; East London and Berlin and between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage can drive.
Long distance train services will not be available now.
The minister said pupils and students who have to drive to and from schools or educational institutions can now travel between provinces.
“But you are not allowed to use public transport to visit. Public transport is only there for people who have to go to work and for students.
“People may travel for funerals and medical treatment between provinces,” Mbalula said. Members of Parliament may also travel between provinces to perform their oversight tasks.
Metered taxis and vehicles providing shuttle services may only be 50% full.
All licensing offices and testing centers will be open from Monday, provided they meet the requirements, Mbalula said.
He said although imports and exports were allowed through the country’s ports, no passenger ships would still be allowed.