It has come to light that Prasa has been operating without a valid safety permit, if the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) does not step its game up by September, there will not be any trains running anywhere in the country.
The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) has made the decision not to issue a permit until it is satisfied with Prasa’s planned interventions to address the current safety concerns.
“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,” said general manager of the RSR, Madelein Williams, to IOL.
The RSR said that it is hopeful that Prasa will come up with a comprehensive plan for its interventions, but also feels that it can no longer compromise on the safety of millions of commuters.
On Tuesday, the RSR granted a temporary safety permit to Prasa, as well as a contravention notice for trains operating without a valid safety permit on 1 August.
The temporary permit is valid until 31 August.
“There have been countless engagements between us and them. We indicated to them what it is we are looking for and the kind of interventions that will give us assurances,” Williams said. “So we are still hopeful that when we get to that point by the end of the month, they will have been able to revise their actions. If they don’t comply, then we can’t issue them with safety permit.”
If Prasa is not issued a permit, it cannot provide service to commuters.
“We are completely aware that there are many commuters relying on the train service, and all these actions are for the good of the commuter because we understand that they need a reliable and safe service.”
Parliament is also increasing pressure on Prasa, as it wants the rail agency to account for the progress of the security measures it has promised to put in place to protect both commuters and Metrorail infrastructure.
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport chairperson, Dikeledi Magadzi, said that it is taking too long for Prasa to uphold the promises they made to the Portfolio Committee. “They indicated that they are going to provide security at these facilities. Sometime last year, Prasa indicated that they are going to talk to the police and beef up their own security. We don’t see at all if they have beefed up their security and we are very disappointed”.