File Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures
Parliament - MPs on Tuesday ordered interim board members of South Africa's Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to appear before it at 2pm sharp after they failed to pitch for a scheduled meeting.

The interim board was expected to brief Parliament's portfolio committee on transport on the country's failing commuter rail services which have led to entire lines being affected, with tens of thousands of people being left stranded or late for work on a daily basis. The meeting was meant to start at 09h30.

Committee chairwoman Dikeledi Magadzi described the conduct of the interim board as disgusting.

Prasa acting chief executive Cromet Molepo told MPs board members only received the invitation to appear before the committee on Monday, saying it was short notice.

The national transport department's Sipho Dibakwane refuted this claim, saying as soon as the invitation was sent out last week, the message was passed on to Prasa.

"We must indicate that we did communicate with Prasa and correspondence in form of an email was sent to everyone in Prasa, including the acting group CEO's office and the company secretary's office. I, for one, even used the little airtime I had... to send SMS messages to everyone indicating the importance of this meeting," said Dibakwane.

"The problem is not with the department, the problem is not with the ministry. The problem is with Prasa itself." 

MPs eventually resolved to give the board until 2pm as it only took around two hours to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

If they don't appear, MPs could summons them and make them pay for the costs of the meeting.

In terms of the law, the board of entities are the accounting authorities and are obliged to report to Parliament.

African News Agency/ANA