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Prasa should stop operating immediately – regulator

Stranded commuters could explode, union says.
A commuter train vandalised by frustrated commuters and photographed in March. Picture: Moneyweb

An explosive situation could develop if the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) immediately stops operating as it has been ordered to do.

This warning comes from the deputy general secretary of the United National Transport Union (Untu) Sonja Carstens. Carstens responded to a statement issued by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) on Wednesday that it has decided against issuing a safety permit to Prasa.

In March this year Untu blew the whistle on the apparent total collapse of Prasa’s passenger rail services. The union painted a horrific picture with whole trains being hijacked on a weekly basis by frustrated passengers who just want to get to their destination.

Prasa’s previous safety permit expired at midnight.

RSR spokesperson Madelein Williams confirmed to Moneyweb that Prasa is not allowed to operate without such a permit and is currently operating in contravention of the National Railway Safety Regulator Act.

Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani indicated that the agency will issue a statement about the matter.

The RSR said Prasa’s previous permit was already issued with special conditions. Prasa however failed to meet the conditions.

The permits are valid for a year and when Prasa issued an application for renewal, the RSR was not satisfied that the identified issues were being adequately addressed.

Williams could not expand on the nature of these issues.

“The RSR is of the opinion that Prasa cannot demonstrate to the regulator that it has the ability, commitment and resources to properly assess and effectively control the risks to assets and safety of its customers, staff, contractors, visitors and others who may be affected by its railway operations,” the regulator said in a statement.

Williams said the RSR asked Prasa for further submissions, but only received that late on Tuesday afternoon, which was after the set deadline. The RSR team is now working through the submission and if found to be in order, it could issue a new permit within about 48 hours.

According to Carstens, Untu members in all regions indicated that Prasa is currently still operating.

This, she said, exposes passengers and staff to great insurance and legal risk, should something go wrong.

Carstens said Untu’s legal representatives will send a letter to Prasa to demand that it stops all operations until outstanding safety issues have been addressed and a valid permit has been issued.

She said Prasa transports millions of passengers daily. In the Western Cape only, which is not even the biggest region, it transports about 1.2 million passengers daily.

While the continued operations pose a safety risk, the situation could also be explosive if Prasa operations are immediately stopped and commuters are left stranded.

Frustrated commuters have often reverted to violence and in the recent week or two multiple train carriages were set alight in Cape Town, which resulted in millions of rands of damage and crippled the Prasa fleet further.

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Fittingly, the famous phrase of “the light at the end of the tunnel…” just came up…

Enough said.

Chaos! The SA solution – break, burn destroy!

And so the ANC chickens of entitlement, disrespect for the law people and property and brainless cadre deployment come home to roost and eat their masters.

There is no end to the wanton destruction of property in South Africa. They won’t stop until they are left with their spears and loin cloths.

Burning trains? Must be that there are no clinics left …

The only alternative transport organisation to get the Prasa contract is the “Karretjie People” of the Karoo. With the quality of management at Prasa, they can only organize donkey carts. People who are really slow, can only safely manage things that move really slow. They will get their contract renewed if they BEE the “Karretjie People” and let them move the commuters. The ANC takes us back to the Dark Ages.

First SA Express Airways were stopped from flying because the Cadre management were light fingered with the money in the pot and they had no money left for maintenance and safety of the aircraft resulting in the Company almost folding and to date not flying for close to 3 months. They are still not in the air. Now Prassa are on the same route. They were also given ample time to correct their errors and get their safety corrected but never did so, and it now is time to prosecute those in Management positions that have placed the lives of the commuters in jeopardy. No more commissions of enquiry, no more protecting the cadre, but fast tracking these rouge managers through the courts and in to jail will send the right message to whoever n ext is smart enough to play silly buggers with tax payers money. Mr. Ramaphosa, you lead the pack of errant public servants. You take ultimate responsibility for what your cadre do. If you cannot fix it, then resign and let someone else try to sort out the mess. Unfortunately, you are following the road of the man you succeeded. Do the right thing now or go.

If PRASA should stop operating immediately then so should the ANC.

As rail is a National Incompetence, and the ANC corruption has led to this situation, then the ANC has to stop operating.

Agreed. They, the ANC, have lost their safety permit too.

End of comments.

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