Richard Walker
Cape Town - The Passenger Rail Agency of South African (Prasa) has remained mum on the status of Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker following claims that he faces a disciplinary hearing.

This after the parastatal’s acting chief executive of rail Mthuthuzeli Swartz had reportedly “removed him”.

Walker, according to Metrorail, was on “leave” until Friday.

Asked whether Walker had returned to work on Monday, Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott would only say: “We have no further comment other than that discipline within Prasa is an internal management process and it is premature to speculate on its outcome.”

When asked to comment on claims that Swartz had adhered to the demands of the United National Transport Union (Untu) that Walker be removed, Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said: “This is an internal matter.”

Untu believed that Walker’s “mismanagement” of the rail services in the Western Cape was the reason the notorious Central Line was suspended for more than five weeks.

The union’s general secretary, Steve Harris, said they were aware of a disciplinary hearing under way. He said they also received information that Walker was on precautionary suspension. Walker could not be reached for comment.

Harris said: “We do not believe that he has been capable of producing what is expected from a manager in his capacity. If you look at some of the incidents that took place I mean last year there was a rampage of commuters and they (management) knew already at 2pm that the trains would not be running.

“There was no action taken to try and bring in buses or to even warn commuters to look for alternative transport. If you look at the repeated killings taking place on the Netreg line, and with him not introducing sufficient security, we believe he hasn’t looked after the interest of the employees either,” he said.

A security guard deployed to escort train drivers had a narrow escape when attacked and shot by unknown armed assailants in Samora Machel on Sunday.

The guard was shot in the shoulder but survived the attack, which followed a series of criminal attacks against Prasa staff while they were engaged with their daily operations.

Last month, a security guard was shot and killed at Chris Hani Station in Khayelitsha.

Former Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi was set to visit the Central Line as part of a site inspection as it officially opens this morning after being suspended following the shooting of a security guard in Khayelitsha and ongoing vandalism.

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Cape Times