TRANSPORT Minister Fikile Mbalula and Passenger Rail Agency of SA officials conduct an inspection at Cape Town station after 18 train carriages were burnt. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Transport unions are optimistic that placing the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) under administration will help get it back on track.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula made a surprise announcement in Braamfontein on Monday that the Prasa interim board would be sacked and Bongisizwe Mpondo would be appointed as an administrator.

The United National Transport Union (Untu) welcomed Mbalula’s decision, and said it would assist Mpondo with finding solutions and providing safe working conditions for its members, ensure that commuters have a reliable service and prevent a situation where Prasa would have to close its doors.

DA provincial spokesperson on transport Daylin Mitchell said while Mbalula’s decision was a step in the right direction, he must address the root of the problem “which is Prasa’s operational management”.

Mitchell said considering transportation under Prasa completely collapsed in Cape Town, “this decision shows that there may indeed be light at the end of the tunnel for rail passengers who remain stranded”.

“I trust that Mbalula will put politics aside and ensure that individuals who are fit for purpose are assigned to Prasa’s board, as opposed to political allies with personal interests.”

The #UniteBehind coalition movement secretary Zackie Achmat said administration, business rescue or similar steps might be the right step for Prasa, which was in the depths of prolonged crisis.

Achmat said the preferred solution was for the declaration of a national disaster for commuter rail.

SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) spokesperson Zanele Sabele said the union was encouraged that the administrator would be meeting with unions next month.

“As always our concern is the job security of our members given Prasa is incrementally introducing new trains into its operations.

“We do not wish to see any of the workers left behind and therefore we will insists on upskilling and reskilling of our members,” Sabele said.

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Cape Argus