A Prasa train. Picture: THE TIMES
A Prasa train. Picture: THE TIMES

The United National Transport Union (Untu) is expected to approach the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town this week, seeking to compel the Passenger Rail Authority of SA (Prasa) to implement security measures to protect drivers and passengers.

Should the bid fail, the union will consider a push for civil claims against the agency, which is failing to provide both sufficient security or ensure trains are technically safe for passengers, Untu general secretary Steve Harris said on Friday.

"Untu has tried all other avenues to convince Prasa’s management to adhere to their obligation as employer to comply to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Constitution by providing a safe working environment for our members, but to no avail," Harris said.

The union’s primary concerns are with the situation in the Western Cape, with a number of high-profile incidents in recent months including the murder of a train driver in 2016.

In 2015, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of passenger Irvine Mashongwa who was assaulted and subsequently lost a leg when he was thrown from a train in the Western Cape.

Mashongwa lodged a R4m civil claim against Prasa, and the court ultimately concluded that the organisation was fully liable, given its failure to ensure that the doors of the train were closed while in motion.

Prasa did not immediately respond to requests for comment. However, in its 2015-16 annual report it indicated a 6% decline in incidents of crime with the Western Cape showing a higher number.

The report further showed a 6% decline in Metrorail’s customer satisfaction to 57%. Commuters cited train operations, conditions of the trains and safety and security.

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