Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - Transport minister Fikile Mbalula on Monday said he believed the appointment of Bongisizwe Mpondo as administrator of struggling state-owned Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) would get the parastatal back on the rails.

"I have no doubt that Mr Mpondo has the right credentials to tackle the challenge of turning around Prasa, address its operational deficiencies and tackle intractable challenges confronting its divisions and subsidiaries. In the coming days, we will be concluding a service level agreement, which will outline in detail the terms of reference for his engagement," Mbalula told reporters in Johannesburg.

Mbalula said Mpondo's key priorities included:

• Addressing all matters raised in the Auditor-General’s report and ensuring that there were no repeat findings.

• Accelerating interventions aimed at improving operational performance.

• Expediting implementation of the modernisation programme, with priority focus on fencing, signalling, per-way and station upgrades.

• Security interventions across all corridors.

• Urgently developing capacity to manage Prasa’s capital programme, working with other state entities in the short term.

• Building capacity to support interventions aimed at recovering the system by establishing requisite supplier panels through competitive bidding or other means permissible. 

• Attending to issues that required engagement with Transnet in order to unlock blockages that negatively affected operations.

• Ensuring effective consequences management and providing support to investigations currently underway by law enforcement authorities.

• Undertaking a review of Prasa's organisational design and business model.

Mbalula announced on Monday that he was dissolving the interim Prasa board and putting the troubled entity under administration for a period of 12 months.

"Mr Mpondo is an entrepreneur who has an extensive record in corporate governance and working with public institutions to improve operational efficiencies.  He has served on the boards of many public entities, which include the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), South African Express, South African Airways, and the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency," said Mbalula.

"He [Mpondo] has led a diverse range of projects that include project management for the department of transport for the 2010 World [FIFA] Cup, serving as a transaction advisor for the Housing Development Agency and many others. Mr Mpondo will put together relevant teams with the requisite skills and capacity to support him in the undertaking of his work," said Mbalula.

The minister said the Prasa administrator would run the affairs of the entity "as a de facto board of control as envisaged in the Prasa founding law and as an accounting authority in terms of the Public Finance Management Act".

African News Agency (ANA)