Satawu members were due to picket at the Prasa across Gauteng province on Wednesday to raise concerns about safety at work. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - South African Transport and Allied Workers Union members were due to picket at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) across Gauteng province on Wednesday to raise concerns about safety at work.

“Workers are concerned about issues of safety as a condition of service. The threat of attacks and hijackings faced by train drivers daily is a matter of public record," Satawu said in a statement.

"Protection services members, for instance, are not provided with firearms even though they are fully trained and incidents they attend to are dangerous as culprits are often armed. Nor are they provided with protective vests or batons with which to defend themselves."

It said protection services employees charged with patrolling the yards where train sets were kept at night lamented the lack of proper lighting, while those who fixed trains relied on their cellphone torches to complete tasks because the workshop was poorly lit.

Customer services personnel felt vulnerable as no protection was provided for them even though they worked with cash.

“Prasa has stopped holding meetings with employees and unions to apprise them of safety hazards and how to mitigate them. This partly explains why the Rail Safety Regulator continues to renew Prasa’s operating license every six months instead of granting it for the full 36 months,” Satawu said.

It said Prasa’s monopoly in the sector meant that regulator revoked its operating license, millions of South Africans reliant on it for their daily commute would be stranded. 

“This explains why the rail agency’s management has adopted a laissez-faire attitude opting to pay fines levied by the RSR rather than comply with regulations," said Satawu.

"The same attitude has resulted in Prasa’s abysmal financial state."

African News Agency (ANA)