Public Protector to probe Cape passenger train woes
The Public Protector has agreed to look into the “causes behind the myriad failures” of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's (Prasa’s) train service in the Western Cape.
Prasa has been plagued by chronic delays in the past three years‚ with arson attacks on trains and looting of infrastructure such as power cables steadily crippling the service’s ability to operate.
In a letter to Western Cape chairperson for the standing committee on transport and public works Nceba Hinana‚ the public protector’s executive manager for communications and stakeholder engagement‚ Oupa Segelwa‚ said a senior investigator would investigate Prasa and its management.
This was after Hinana wrote a letter requesting an urgent investigation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane into the failures by the rail agency and “mismanagement” by the transport ministry.
In the letter Hinana wrote that the train service had lost 41% of it’s passengers since 2014 when it transported 608‚000 passengers a day.
Arson attacks on trains since 2015 have eroded Metrorail’s stock to about 50 workable train sets and more than 150 coaches have been damaged by fire since then.
Incidentally‚ security cameras at stations where trains were burned have been out of operation since around the same time as the start of the arson attacks.
There have also been several trains set alight at Cape Town’s main terminal in Central Station yet only one person has been convicted for starting a train fire.
Transport minister Blade Nzimande visited Cape Town last month where he said that the arson attacks on trains would become a focus area for Prasa.
He also said that the department was “not getting its money’s worth” from the security companies contracted by Metrorail to safeguard infrastructure.