Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency.
The Passenger Rail Agency Of South Africa (Prasa) 2016-17 report was released late, almost a year to the day. 

Last month I made public a leaked version of it. It is clear that the officially released version of this report has been doctored as there are differences between the two versions.

The official version indicates that Prasa losses increased from R533 million in 2015/2016 to R927m in 2016/2017 despite an increased in the operational subsidy from R4.9 billion to R5.2bn. The so-called “new dawn” is not taking place at Prasa. It is more of an “old dusk” as this transport agency continues to bleed the taxpayers’ money.

Operating expenses increased by R1.3 billion (that’s 15%) while revenue decreased by R392 million (12%). According to the report, the increase in the operating expenses was due to a liability of R635m for a National Transport Movement ruling by the labour appeal court. However, even subtracting that judgment operating expenses went up by R765m.

At the same time Prasa spent only R6.7billion of its allocated R13.8bn for capital expenditure - that’s only 48%. This is money which could have been used to significantly improve infrastructure and service delivery. The irregular expenditure during this period was R4.9bn - that’s almost the entire government subsidy! More of that old dusk. Metrorail passenger trips in this period decreased from 448 million in 2015/2016 to 370m in 2016/2017. Passenger injuries and fatalities went up from 4.7 passengers per million to 5.4. Rail-related crime incidents also went up from 2737 in 2015/2016 to 3591 in 2016/2017. The official report confirms that there is in fact uncertainty as to the ability of Prasa to continue as a going concern.

Prasa is not in a good place and its board and management appears to lack the understanding that their mandate is rail transportation, which is supposed to be the backbone of our public transport system. I will be asking the minister questions about the discrepancies in the reports and what he plans to do about putting Prasa in a better position. This old dusk simply cannot continue!

* Manny de Freitas, MP. 

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus