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Commuters left stranded with Prasa 'not ready' to resume Metrorail service

Published Jun 1, 2020


Cape Town - Thousands of commuters will have to wait for at least another month to board passenger trains after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) was not ready to operate fully.

Over the weekend, Mbalula provided details of public transport operations and travel during alert level 3 of the national lockdown, which started today.

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He said through ongoing engagements and evaluation of Prasa’s state of readiness, “we have concluded that Prasa is not ready to resume with the Metrorail commuter service”.

He said his department would continue to work closely with Prasa in assessing each line and put measures in place to achieve an acceptable level of readiness.

United Commuters Voice (UCV) spokesperson Joao Jardim, welcomed Mbalula’s announcement, saying they were pleased that acting Metrorail regional manager Raymond Maseko also engaged with them and promised to relay their concerns.

“It is a victory for the commuters. Yes, it is another month of frustration but rather be on the side of caution than stumble at the last hurdle,” Jardim said.

DA provincial spokesperson on Transport and Public Works, Daylin Mitchell, said Prasa was a broken business, “so we cannot be surprised that Metrorail was not ready to resume operations”.

Mitchell said that with the gradual opening of the economy, “national government is again failing to support both the livelihoods and lives of commuters”.

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“Thousands of employees rely on rail transportation for an affordable work commute, but must now risk their health by overcrowding other forms of public transport.”

The City’s transport portfolio committee chairperson, Angus McKenzie, said it was absolutely catastrophic. “It’s actually beyond comprehension that yet another government-owned parastatal has found itself wanting, to the detriment of thousands of commuters that will make their way back to work to earn an income they have lost for the past two months.”

McKenzie said Prasa needed to ask themselves very serious and critical questions as to whether or not they still had the ability to run a functional rail system. “It has become clear that they cannot”.

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She said Untu had even indicated which other lines to open rather than the ones they wanted to open today.

Over the weekend Prasa announced the appointment of executives as part of the intervention to stabilise the entity and bring on board skilled and capable managers.

The new appointees included Nosipho Damasane as chief executive of Prasa Rail; Hishaam Emeran as chief executive officer: Prasa Technical; Neil Roesch as chief executive of Autopax, a subsidiary of Prasa; David Mphelo as the group chief information officer and Sandile Dlamini as the group company secretary.

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Cape Argus

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