The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has been issued with a temporary safety permit, says the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR).
This will offer the rail agency some relief after the RSR issued a statement on Wednesday saying Prasa was operating trains without a valid safety permit.
It’s not all good news for Prasa, though, as they were also issued with a contravention notice from the RSR for operating trains on August 1 without a valid safety permit.
In a statement on Thursday, the RSR said the temporary permit was valid only from August 2 to August 31.
On Wednesday, RSR said Prasa’s permit, which was previously issued with special conditions, had expired the day before.
“RSR has taken a decision not to issue a permit until it is satisfied that Prasa’s planned interventions to address the current safety concerns,” RSR general manager Madelein Williams said.
“The RSR is of the opinion that Prasa cannot demonstrate to the regulator that it has the ability, commitment and resources to properly assess and effectively control the risks to assets and safety of its customers, staff, contractors, visitors and others who may be affected by its railway operations.”
Williams said the RSR was committed to its mandate and would continue to ensure safety remained central to railway operations at all times.
“It is the view of the RSR that the issuance of a Temporary Safety Permit will assist Prasa in continuing with their operations, but most importantly, provide Prasa with another opportunity to develop robust action plans that will address the identified inadequacies,” Williams said.
The Citizen reported on Wednesday that an explosive situation could develop if Prasa immediately stopped operating, as it has been ordered to do.
This warning comes from deputy general secretary of the United National Transport Union (Untu) Sonja Carstens. Carstens responded to a statement issued by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) on Wednesday that it has decided against issuing a safety permit to Prasa.
In March this year Untu blew the whistle on the apparent total collapse of Prasa’s passenger rail services. The union painted a horrific picture, with whole trains being hijacked on a weekly basis by frustrated passengers who just wanted to get to their destination.
Prasa’s previous safety permit expired at midnight.
Williams confirmed to Moneyweb that Prasa was not allowed to operate without such a permit, and was currently operating in contravention of the National Railway Safety Regulator Act.
Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani indicated the agency would issue a statement about the matter.
The RSR said Prasa’s previous permit was already issued with special conditions. Prasa, however, failed to meet the conditions.
The permits are valid for a year and, when Prasa issued an application for renewal, the RSR was not satisfied that the identified issues were being adequately addressed.
Williams could not expand on the nature of these issues.