Women and children may get their own train carriages

#UniteBehind says PRASA board chair has undertaken to introduce chaperoned carriages

Photo of a train

After talks with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, #UniteBehind says the agency might reintroduce “chaperone carriages” for children as soon as August. Photo: Brent Meersman

By Barbara Maregele

21 May 2018

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) might reintroduce “chaperone carriages” for children by August, says #UniteBehind.

In a statement on Monday, #UniteBehind said, “Women commuters face specific threats to their safety. This must be considered and prioritised by PRASA.”

The organisation said that it had met with senior management at PRASA and newly appointed PRASA board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama on Friday. The organisation said PRASA made “a number of crucial undertakings” which included the reintroduction of chaperoned carriages for children.

GroundUp was unable to determine why this service was discontinued years ago.

“[Kweyama] herself has undertaken to make sure that chaperone carriages for children are reintroduced in August. Chaperone carriages will provide children with a safe space and will be accompanied by volunteers cleared by PRASA,” it said.

#UniteBehind has also called on the rail agency to have separate carriages for women and children.

But PRASA spokesperson Nana Zenani said #UniteBehind’s request for special carriages forms part of “ongoing discussions and nothing further”.

#UniteBehind as well as the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) and Equal Education Law Centre have been collecting cases “to compel PRASA to develop a safety plan” for women and children.

#UniteBehind said that despite the efforts to tackle state capture within the agency and the appointment of a “competent board”, the rail service remained in a state of crisis. “We believe that a cooperative relationship with PRASA is possible,” it said.