South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) is once again calling on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to accelerate the modernisation of its infrastructure and rolling stock after the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) ordered its long-haul division to cease operating.
This comes after a Premier Classe Shosholoza Meyl passenger train drove into a stationary Transnet goods train last Wednesday night, killing one passenger and injuring nine others – one critically.
A RSR preliminary investigation found the Premier Classe train had been authorised to enter the line at Horizon station, Roodepoort while the goods train was stationary on the same line. On verifying whether the special condition requiring Section Managers to counter-sign manual train authorisations was adhered to, RSR found there had been no Section Manager on duty when the collision occurred. The long-haul train was also found to have been travelling 60km/h when the speed limit is 30km/h.
In arriving at its decision RSR recounted six train accidents dating back from February 2017 to March 2019, saying it was clear there were inherent substandard acts committed during manual authorisation. Four people died and 1 630 were injured in those accidents.
SATAWU has continuously called on Prasa to speed up its modernisation programme. It has been disheartening to find out only 10% of Prasa’s capital expenditure budget has been spent and that the remainder will be sent back to Treasury at the end the current financial year.
SATAWU hopes under the leadership of Administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo and the board that succeeds him, Prasa will stop procrastinating while commuters and staff continue to lose their lives and finally implement the modernisation programme to completion.
We urge Prasa to take to heart President Cyril Ramaphosa’s vision to see the rail network modernised. Delivering the State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa said Prasa would receive a R1.4 billion boost towards the project.
SATAWU Condemns Attack on Female Train Driver
SATAWU condemns the attack on a female train driver by commuters in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.
Nonhlanhla Dlamini was hit on the head when commuters threw stones at her after she refused to stop the train between stations because it is not allowed. She hid in the cabin for more than an hour before help came.
SATAWU has continuously called on Prasa to put measures in place to protect its staff. Regrettably, Dlamini is not the first driver to have commuters turn on her. Prasa workers are constantly under siege partly due to the dilapidated infrastructure and shortage of trains which results in trains arriving late or not at all. However, attacking a driver for not stopping between stations will not find sympathy with us. We call on commuters to treat drivers, male or female, with respect because they are not responsible for the state of the rail agency.
For more details and media interviews contact:
Tinzi Lubabalo, SATAWU National Coordinator for Prasa, 082 473 2626
Zanele Sabela, SATAWU Media Officer, 079 287 5788, 011 403 2077, Zanele@satawu.org.za