The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will need between R2.6 billion and R2.9 billion to repair the infrastructure damaged by the recent floods that hit the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
This was revealed on Monday in the initial investigation report released by a multidisciplinary Disaster Management Response Team comprising various divisional heads, senior managers and Prasa’s engineering team.
The team visited the province to assess the extent of the damage to the rail network and develop a recovery plan.
Said Prasa: “The collated data and photographic evidence of inaccessible areas, the direct cost of the recovery in the region is estimated to be between R2.6 billion and R2.9 billion.”
It said that the preliminary investigation identified about 9 sections that have been severely affected by the floods.
“Metrorail KZN has experienced substantial damage to its facilities, rail infrastructure as well as rolling stock.
“Restoring services will require rehabilitation and replacement of perway (tracks); repair of electrical infrastructure and substations damaged by the floods; replacement of signaling equipment; replacement of damaged fiber cables and UPS equipment; and repair of the drainage system and Illovo Bridge.”
It said that some areas were still inaccessible, and a geotechnical and detailed design assessment and costing needed to be conducted once water levels have decreased and weather permits.
Prasa has also lamented the loss of fare revenue due to the suspension of train services and said that an estimation of R50 million has been lost as a result.
“This highlights the importance of the teams working quickly to restore services.
“The work of the Disaster Management Response Team has begun in earnest. Last week, mud, rubble, debris, water, and sewage were removed from 14 affected stations in the region as part of a cleanup campaign.”
In recent years, Prasa suffered major vandalism of railway stations across the country, a crisis that may take up to six-year to fix, according to Dr Willem Sprong, technical executive railway engineering at GIBB Engineering.
“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. Our calculations were about R4 billion and you still have Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. To say all those cities will be covered within a year is impossible,” said Sprong.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has promised to fix the agency with urgency.
“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.