Newly-appointed CEO of Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), Zolani Matthews aims to prioritise efforts to support the issue of security risks after reporting that vandalism cost the state-owned passenger rail service more than R4bn over the years.
Matthews, who was appointed earlier this year after taking over from acting CEO Thandeka Mabija said that “Prasa has been faced with unprecedented levels of both vandalism and sabotage,” while a preliminary audit shows that vandalism has costed the business over R4 billion.
“Certainly the devastation on the network in the past 12 months is probably in excess of R1 billion alone,” he added.
According to News24, Prasa put several measures in place to strengthen security which included insourcing security functions by recruiting employees, and engaging with state-owned enterprises to participate in the security contracts with no success.
As Matthews further explains, Prasa plans to contract private security and seeks to deploy technology to protect assets. “We are looking at sourcing different technology options which will also assist us to move away for old security plans but focus on modern interventions,” he said.
For Matthews, the priority areas include restoring public transport, ensuring that Prasa’s operational performance meets the expected standards, restoring financial discipline within the organisation, and the rebuilding of stations.
“The most compelling issue is security… If we do not have adequate security that is comprehensive, that is properly deployed and focused and is modelled on some modern security systems that you see around the world … we will continue to face challenges,” said Matthews.
As News24 reports, Prasa is also working with law-enforcement agencies such as the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit, while instituting a clear policy on consequence management for employees. On prior occasions, it took a long time to deal with issues of corruption and discipline, some of which have been ongoing for years, he said.
“I will be disrupting the status quo – the reality is that there are people in Prasa who have become comfortable in doing wrong things and the fact that no serious action has not been taken against them; they are in for a rude awakening,” said Matthews.