File Image: IOL
Parliament - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has paid out a total of R103 million in compensation to ­people injured as a result of open coach doors in moving trains since March last year.

This was revealed by Transport Minister Blade Nzimande in a written response to a parliamentary question from the DA’s Manny de Freitas.

De Freitas had enquired about the total number of persons who had been injured and died as a result of open coach doors in moving trains.

Nzimande said five fatalities and 138 injuries had been reported since March last year.

He said R103 018 772 had been paid out in compensation to the victims during the period.

“It should be noted that commuter injury claims take a long time to finalise and settle. To that extent, claims incurred in a specific month are not settled in that month, but in later months,” Nzimande said.

The minister added that Prasa had not reneged on its legal duty to ensure that doors were closed. “When the driver picks up their train at the staging yard, he or she ensures that the doors are tested and functional.

“We make sure that the doors that are malfunctioning are repaired before the train leaves the staging yard,” he said.

Nzimande said passengers had a tendency to block the doors and cause them to malfunction.

Meanwhile, Nzimande said his department planned to address the backlog in the issuing of driving licences by not later than this month, following delays caused by a labour dispute.

“In January this year, there was a backlog of 250000 cards, which was addressed on February8. As at March7, 2019, there was a backlog of 194000 cards, which was caused by a delay in the delivery of material.

“This backlog will be addressed by April15,” he said in a written reply to parliamentary questions from the DA’s Chris Hunsinger.

Nzimande said the delay in the delivery of driving licence cards was caused by the system upgrade on the production machine, and the labour dispute lodged by the employees in the production of driving licence cards.

“The production team worked overtime to address the backlog.”

Nzimande also confirmed instances where members of the public have had to return to redo their fingerprints, photos and eye tests.

“The department has been working on a recovery tool to retrieve the missing images (fingerprints, photos and eye-test) In those instances where we have not been able to, members of the public have been requested to return to the centres to redo their applications,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande also said the Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA) had opened a case of extortion and sabotage in connection with the missing fingerprints, photos and eye-test.

“However, the office of the Directorate for Priority Investigation had issued a “nolle prosecui”, citing, among others, lack of evidence as the reason for withdrawal,” he said.

Politics Hub