Prasa House in Hatfield, Pretoria. File picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Thousands of security guards have been left unemployed after Passenger Rail Agency SA (Prasa) terminated contracts with their companies across the country.

On Monday, the Prasa board announced that they had resolved to terminate contracts with private security companies because they didn’t get value for money.

Crime and cable theft continue to be issues that the rail agency has to contend with despite employing private security guards.

Acting CEO Nkosinathi Sishi said the contracts had been appointed irregularly by the previous board during the presentation of the War Room Report on Monday. 

The war room was established to monitor progress and implement solutions on Prasa on the quality of service, safety and security among other things.

“From now onwards, we are going to work with police and the committee of all State Security agents. From 1 November, they’ve been a part of our security effort. Already, progress has been made towards ensuring an increase in train sets, availability, improved on-time performance,” Sishi said.

The contracts were terminated at the end of October.

But security guards claim they have hung out to dry after working for the rail company for more than 20 years. One of the workers said: “Our contracts were supposed to end in June but we have been working month to month since then.  

“Last week, we were surprised when the Prasa protection services told us to leave our stations because our jobs have been terminated,” said one guard who was stationed at Park Station.

Another guard said in June, Transport minister Fikile Mbalula promised that insourced guards would be hired so they were surprised to be fired.

“Why can’t we be insourced. We have been working for Prasa for more than 20 years. We are old now, who will hire us?”

While their contracts have been terminated, they still report to duty.

“Our supervisors said we must still continue going to work. After every shift,  we sign the attendance register.  When we try and enter the rail premises,  we are manhandled by the protection service,” the man said.

Mbalula said safety on the railway system was a big concern.

“This is one of the areas where we really need to double our efforts to ensure that those who use our services are free from harm, while the work done from Prasa in addressing security gaps is encouraging, we need to accelerate our interventions.

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The Star