Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has assured the public that “billions of rands in investments” will be made in order to restore the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and its broken railway systems.
Speaking at the launch of the disbursement of Covid-19 relief funds for taxi operators on Tuesday, Mbalula said South Africans must “watch the space” following public criticism over how far the country’s railway system has fallen.
“[You guys are crying about Prasa]. The trains are coming back… they are going to be running [again]. [There] are big announcements on [the] way in regards to trains… billions of rands in investments are on their way. So watch the space… this is the year of delivery,” he said.
In December last year, Mbalula dismissed claims that it will take 30 years to fix Prasa.
The minister promised that Prasa “will deliver tangible results”, saying some train stations would be operational in the coming year.
“Most of the corridors that were shut down will be back to full operation in the new year, including the central line in Cape Town and the Mabopane line in Tshwane,” he said.
Mbalula said it was common cause that his office had inherited a broken organisation, which was in dire straits.
“We inherited a broken organisation in dire straits. Through the shareholders compact we concluded with the board, we seek to address the challenges with speed, in a systematic and focused manner; when we came into office in 2019, we set out a process to address the dire state of the entity and implemented various interventions to address institutional and operational challenges at Prasa,” he said.
Despite losing yet another CEO in Zolani Matthews, Mbalula is confident Prasa’s board is making progress with turning the rail agency around.
“I have been briefed on a number of significant decisions the board has made, which include the termination of employment of the group CEO, a matter currently before the courts,” the minister added.
The Department of Transport has promised to provide comprehensive updates to the nation in 2022 on the progress made in implementing the Prasa corporate plan and the shareholders compact.
“Our estimate we did at the beginning of this year showed us it would take at least six years just to get Gauteng back on track and our calculations were about R4 billion and you still have Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, and to say all those cities will be covered within a year is impossible,” Sprong told The Citizen.