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Judge to still oversee compliance of Prasa safety

In Wolmerton in Pretoria there were 34 train sets, but now there are only seven.”

Passenger rail agency of South Africa (Prasa) has failed to comply with special safety requirements imposed on it by a safety regulator, a Gauteng north high court judge has said.

Judge Cassim Sardiwalla has therefor extended his oversight period over the ailing state-owned enterprise.

Sardiwalla will continue to oversee whether Prasa adheres to provisions of his initial order granted against it and the transport minister in October last year.

These requirements were imposed on it by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR).

“Prasa struggled to perform timeous and required critical maintenance projects to trains,” said United national transport union (Untu) general secretary Steve Harris.

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He also claimed Prasa could not fill all its critical vacancies in line with a plan it submitted to the court.

“Despite this, Prasa managed to convince the RSR to grant it a special safety operating permit,” said Harris.

The permit is subject to strict conditions with reference to, among other things, the ongoing manual authorisation of trains due to Prasa’s inability to finalise the modernisation of the signalling system nationwide

Untu deputy general secretary Sonja Carstens claimed the situation was deteriorating at Prasa.

“The number of trains available to run a proper service continues to decrease,” she said.

“In Braamfontein in Johannesburg, there were 86 train sets. But now there are only 57 train sets. In Wolmerton in Pretoria, there were 34 train sets; but now there are only seven.”

“Due to overcrowding, commuters are falling off the trains,” Carstens said.

Commuters were dying, being raped and assaulted every day because of Prasa failing to adhere to its obligations, she said.

Last week Untu and its affiliated federation, the Federation of trade unions of South Africa (Fedusa), marched in Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town, to hand over memorandums directed at President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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Harris said the union welcomed the suggestions made to improve the passenger rail service by transport minister Fikile Mbalula.

“These were, however, long-term solutions and would not bring about the immediate relief that is needed for our members and commuters,” he said.

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