Cape Town - Mayor Dan Plato has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene urgently in the alleged mismanagement of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) rail network, as it continued to have a severe impact on Cape Town residents.
Plato, who recently wrote a letter to Ramaphosa, said they have been informed through media reports of Prasa’s alleged failed attempt to use state funds for political patronage, by employing “ANC military veterans” to oversee untrained community members employed to protect the rail service.
He said by December 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the country, about 160 train carriages, which make up close to 50 train sets, had been burnt in separate arson attacks in the city over three years.
“Not a single person was prosecuted for this blatant economic sabotage that crippled the backbone of public transport in our mother city,” said Plato.
He said the reported bungling of the People’s Responsibility to Protect Project, intended to employ 5 000 volunteers to assist with monitoring and safety, was another example of Prasa’s inability effectively to manage and safeguard the rail network, which thousands of people relied on for their daily commute.
“Preliminary assessments of the damage done to public rail infrastructure is reported to be an estimated R4 billion.”
He said the rail service in Cape Town has, under Prasa’s continued management, seen no improvement, and has, in fact, deteriorated further, with a 66% reduction in rail commuters since 2019.
Prasa spokesperson Bane Ndlovu declined to comment on Plato’s allegations.
However, last week, Prasa’s chief executive, Zolani Matthews, said the challenges facing Prasa were not insurmountable but would require all stakeholders working together to resolve.
“There is urgency to resolve the challenges facing the business,” said Matthews.
United Commuters’ Voice spokesperson João Jardim said they have previously highlighted the very approach from the City.
Jardim said it came as no surprise that the DA was pressing the issue, because Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula practically guaranteed that at the launch of the Rail Management and Traffic Control Centre Building in Bellville last year.