Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s Prasa “war room” to improve the daily train services has shown zero improvement on ground level, says the United National Transport Union. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s Prasa “war room” to improve the daily train services has shown zero improvement on ground level, the United National Transport Union (Untu) said on Tuesday.

Untu general secretary Steve Harris said to date no train drivers belonging to Untu have a telephone number for the “war room or rooms” where they can report problems occurring on their routes.

Harris said for them it is business as usual since the establishment of the “war rooms” as they continue to bear witness to the stripping of the remaining infrastructure by criminals.

The war room was meant to sort out the problems at Prasa. At the time, Mbulula said it would be used as a tool to track the progress of the plan to improve the country's railways.

But Harris said abnormal working of the trains continued, with thousands of manual authorisations issued per month nationwide.

Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said there had been a drastic improvement on the action items targeted.

“Out of seven action items four have been completed, with 20 items that are a work in progress as per the deliverables.”

Zenani said the war room had only been in place since August 12, after it was launched by Mbalula on August 8.

“Prasa is happy with the progress made in such a short time. Any report on progress or lack thereof is devious.”

The war room came at a time when Cape Town commuters were facing challenges with rail transport.

Rail Enforcement Unit (REU) were deployed in October last year to help improve the safety of commuters and infrastructure. The officers were initially given a 12 month contract.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said its contract has been extended and the latest recruits were being phased in after receiving the requisite induction/training.

Acting Executive Director for Safety and Security, Wayne Le Roux said the unit will remain at a force strength of 100 for now. 

“In terms of improvement, it is fair to say that the experience the officers have built up since the launch of the initiative nearly a year ago, has been beneficial as it has helped to fine-tune operations."

Le Roux said it is worth remembering that when this unit was established, “it was a first for the rail environment and a completely new challenge for staff and all of the role players involved. There have been many learnings that can only strengthen the approach going forward”.

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Cape Argus