The DA can reveal that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has lost a shocking 823 and 565 train coaches for Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl respectively due to vandalism and theft in the past three financial years resulting in over R503 million in losses.
Rail safety is a national competency and it is PRASA’s responsibility to ensure the efficient running of trains across the country and assure commuter safety for those who use this mode of transport.
It is inconceivable that while vandalism has been on the increase, the agency has completely neglected security. Another reply to a DA Parliamentary question revealed that since 2012/13 private security dropped from 3883 to 2676 security personnel, a shocking 31% drop. In the Gauteng region, the figure dropped from 2117 to 1324 personnel (37.5% drop) and in the Western Cape region, there a drop of 26.2 % meaning the figures went from 1084 to 799 personnel.
Thousands of commuters across the country have already been left stranded as a result of train lines being suspended due to what can only be the loss of the more 1388 coaches that have been vandalised.
Clearly PRASA has failed to implement contingency plans to alleviate the scourge of vandalism and violence on our railway system.
For the past few years the DA has doggedly highlighted the glaring problems within PRASA and the latest developments reiterate our call to implement an Emergency Plan which includes:
The re-introduction of a specialised railway safety police to take over security operations, as current private security companies are clearly not fully equipped to combat crime, vandalism;Appointing a capable, qualified, full-time board fulltime board and the removal of compromised acting executives and board members; An urgent update as to the progress made in upgrading the current signal system so that no manual signal is used and to therefore avoid unnecessary incidents of crashes, derailments and security issues; and That PRASA cede control of Metrorail services and the allocated budget, which is currently a national competency, to Metro councils in order to ensure an efficient and safe integrated transportation system is delivered to commuters.
It is clear that PRASA is failing in carrying out its mandate, leaving the poor to bear the brunt of years of poor management and bad decision-making.