By Kamva Somdyala
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for practical and urgent action to deal with problems plaguing the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
This comes after Ramaphosa was delayed for three hours on a train this past week while on his ANC campaign blitz in Johannesburg. The commute usually takes 45 minutes but the train arrived late at Mabopane station and got stuck en route to its destination at the Bosman station in Pretoria.
On Tuesday during a meeting with Transport Minister Blade Nzimande Ramaphosa told him that there needed to be urgency in dealing with the deterioration of infrastructure and the “unacceptable delays of train services, which often result in commuters arriving late for work, school and other commitments”, Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement.
“There is no reason commuters should have to endure frequent delays or feel unsafe on our trains. This is a problem that we can work together to solve.”
During the meeting at Ramaphosa’s Cape Town residence Tuynhuys, Ramaphosa called for urgent action to be taken to bridge the gap between the turnaround strategies developed and their day-to-day implementation.
He also directed that a capable and skilled team of specialists be established to conduct due diligence on the rail network to determine the extent of challenges.
“The president stressed the need for a safe, reliable and integrated public transport system to support the country’s economic development aspirations,” said Diko.
“Urgent action is required to accelerate the implementation of the R172bn modernisation programme meant to eliminate challenges occasioned by aged infrastructure.”
Ramaphosa further directed immediate action to strengthen governance by stabilising the leadership at board level and filling critical vacancies, including that of the group chief executive officer.
Nzimande is expected to make announcements in due course on the delivery of these commitments and other actions to be undertaken to restore service performance at Prasa.