24 April 2019

South Africa: 'Let Western Cape Manage Its Own Prasa Network' - DA to National Government

The Democratic Alliance has called on national government to grant the Western Cape and Cape Town metro the authority to manage the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's (Prasa) network and stations.

Prasa is a national function and falls under the Department of Transport. The state-owned entity has however been crippled by years of financial losses and mismanagement.

The DA cited audit outcomes from the office of the Auditor-General to back up its claims that it governs the best-run province (the Western Cape) in South Africa and the best-run city (Cape Town). The party added that it hopes to leverage its governance track record to improve the safety and efficiency of the rail network.

Briefing reporters outside of Cape Town station on Wednesday, Western Cape MEC for Community Safety and DA Premier candidate Alan Winde said the station serviced an estimated 4.5 million people and should be a world-class public facility.

New train, but it doesn't move

"This train was launched two weeks ago by the president," Winde said, referring to a train model from the new fleet on display outside the station. "It is the newest train in the country and safer than most, surrounded by security.

"But it doesn't move. The problem is [Prasa's] management."

As Prasa's rail network and stations in Cape Town are managed at national government level, the hands of the DA-led provincial government and administration of Cape Town are tied when the network falls victim to disruptions, vandalism and crime, said Winde.

Political will

The DA premier candidate said there is a white paper on transport setting out how to better manage Prasa trains. However, political will was lacking to improve the rail system. The solution, according to Winde, is to transfer the management of the train network to provincial and local government.

"We can be a safe, fast, reliable and cheap transport system. We want good management of new infrastructure, to appoint the right people for the job and to transform management completely.

"We just need to be allowed to manage it," said Winde.

Over the Easter weekend, infrastructure inside of the Cape Town station was subjected to more damage caused by a fire on Sunday. One suspect, Thobela Xoseni, has been arrested in connection with the blaze.

In its elections manifesto, the DA pledges to "ensure that Prasa cede control of Metrorail services and the allocated budget to metro councils to ensure an efficient and safe integrated transportation system is delivered to commuters".

Source: Fin24

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