Home South Africa News DA – Prasa has gone from bad to worse under Mbalula

DA – Prasa has gone from bad to worse under Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula

The party’s comment comes after the minister said the railway agency was not ready to resume Metrorail commuter services this month.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) called on the new Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) CEO Nosipho Damasane to address the lack of rail services during the Alert Level 3 lockdown.

This comes after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Saturday that Prasa was not ready to resume with Metrorail commuter services by the 1 June 2020 deadline and has instead postponed rail services to resume on 1 July 2020.

DA MP Chris Hunsinger said in a statement on Tuesday: “Ms. Damasane has a wealth of experience and we trust that she will use this to hit the ground running in order to address the lack of rail services during the current risk-adjusted Level 3 lockdown.”

Hunsinger said as more South Africans were returning to work this week, many were in need of trains to get to and from their place of employment.

“Rail services are the lifeline of the economy as it is a convenient and affordable mode of transport for the South African workforce, as well as scholars. Under Minister Mbalula’s watch, Prasa has gone from bad to worse.

“The entity has reportedly been unable to pay security companies, thus making Metrorail vulnerable to vandalism and compromising commuter safety as well as train infrastructure. This has largely contributed to the delay in commuter train services resuming this week,” he said.

The MP said the lack of commuter train services had also placed immense pressure on the taxi industry, as commuters have to queue for hours because taxis were only able to carry 70% of capacity.

“Workers have complained about the long wait as well as arriving to work late. This is unsustainable and train services need to be resumed as soon as possible under strict Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

“The DA will request that the new CEO and the Prasa executive appear before parliament’s portfolio committee on transport on a regular basis in order to report on their work,” he added.

Hunsinger further said the party believed the executive teams of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) should be accountable to parliament.

“For years, Prasa has been hamstrung by graft, mismanagement, and instability brought on by the appointment of numerous ministers of transport, who in turn appointed a multitude of inept boards and executives.

“We hope that the new CEO will withstand political meddling from Luthuli House and remain fiercely independent, acting in the sole interest of the millions of commuters who depend on Prasa’s services on a daily basis and not in the interest of the minister,” he concluded.

The People’s Dialogue leader Herman Mashaba also criticised the railway agency and the department of transport for its failure to use the lockdown to prepare trains for thousands of commuters.

“I find Prasa’s lack of readiness to be particularly bizarre,” Mashaba said on Twitter.

He continued to ask: “Are the trains still in quarantine? The taxi industry managed to put health measures in place, yet Prasa couldn’t manage to do the same in nine weeks? This is unacceptable. How must people get to work?”

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Source: The Citizen