Photo: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
Photo: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on transport sector, says deputy minister

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Sep 8, 2021

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Transport Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga says they could not downplay the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the transport sector in general.

“This impact has been worse for Prasa, losing millions in revenue, which has been on a downslide even before the pandemic.

“Due to a prolonged period when the rail services were not operational, our infrastructure fell victim to criminals who looted and destroyed rail infrastructure from stations, to tracks, substations to fencing,” Chikunga said.

“That was further compounded by the illegal occupation of tracks and reserves in Cape Town,” she said.

Chikunga made the statement when she was leading the Prasa and department delegation to the select committee on transport, public service and administration and public works and infrastructure.

Prasa was to give a progress report on the refurbishment of the railway infrastructure.

Chikunga said the impact of Covid-19 has not only increased the cost of restoring services but has also affected the timelines they had originally planned to resume normal services on certain corridors.

“We are now at hard work rehabilitating and replacing infrastructure in order to enable the resumption of services and deployment of new trains in the computer rail environment,” she said.

The deputy minister said they had made numerous strides to place Prasa on a stable footing.

“When the board was appointed, it signalled a break with chaotic past and new beginnings that placed at the centre its focus millions of South Africans who rely on Prasa services for livelihood.

“We are under no illusion that we have no luxury of time to take a winded approach in restoring services our people desperately need,” she said.

Chikunga said they were mindful in order to restore public confidence in their services and promote rail as a mode of choice, Khawuleza ethos – doing things – should permeate in everything they do.

“This does not suggest we intend to cut corners. It means we must be responsive and agile in expediting decision-making.”

She also said through the shareholder compact between the department and the Prasa board, they would strengthen the oversight role on the entity.

“On a regular basis, we interrogate Prasa’s performance and provide guidance where we believe there is a risk of missing agreed targets.”

Chikunga said there was an acceleration of vital strategic interventions in priorities and their implementation.

“This included a massive infrastructure rehabilitation programme and restoring to service the upgraded central and Mabopane lines, among others.

“The multi-pronged approach we have adopted, which targets restoring of the service while simultaneously building technical capacity, will ensure the impact of our interventions are seen and felt within a reasonable time,” she added.

Political Bureau

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