South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) commends newly appointed executives at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) for the swift manner in which they dealt with problems on the Western Cape’s Central Line last week.
Prasa’s newly appointed acting Group CEO Cromet Molepo and acting CEO of Rail Mthuthuzeli Swartz moved swiftly this week to form a steering committee after a vandalised section on the Central Line caused a test train to derail. The train was testing the line in preparation for re-opening after service was suspended for a week following the murder of a security guard at Chris Hani station, Khanyelitsha.
A day prior to the derailment, Molepo and Swartz had convened a meeting of stakeholders including SA Police Service (Saps), labour unions operating within Prasa, SATAWU and Untu, and other interested parties. In that meeting, stakeholders agreed to restore service to the line which caters for commuters from Khayelitsha, Philippi, Mitchell’s Plain, Bishop Lavis and Langa. As a result of the meeting, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be signed between Prasa and Saps to reintroduce railway police to safeguard commuters, employees and rail infrastructure, Molepo said.
But unbeknownst to those attending the meeting vandals had cut out section of copper wire on the line subsequently causing the test train to derail.
Unruffled, Molepo and Mthuthuzeli went to assess the damage the next day (Thursday) and later held another stakeholders meeting where a steering committee comprising representatives of Prasa, Saps, labour unions and their federations Cosatu and Fedusa, and the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) was formed to address the various challenges facing the rail agency in the Western Cape.
SATAWU commends Molepo and Swartz for putting in place stringent security measures on the line – something SATAWU in the Western Cape has been calling for since 2016. Sadly, our calls fell on deaf ears, as Prasa regional management refused to act even after Saps offered new recruits to reinforce security on the Central Line. To date those new recruits were never assigned to protect the Central Line, which also happens to be the city’s busiest. The recruits were, however, posted on the Southern Line which services the predominantly white affluent suburbs, leaving commuters on the Central Line, which runs along less affluent parts of the city to endure criminality daily.
Given Molepo and Swartz have already set the standard, we expect them to continue delivering. We therefore call on them to address the historical imbalances regional management has so far been happy to perpetuate and ensure that railway police are proportionally assigned based on need.
We also call on Swartz, under whose direct authority rail falls, to address overcrowding on trains.
SATAWU looks forward to working together with these two executives as they continue the hard task of turning Prasa into an entity that provides safe, reliable and affordable transport service to millions of South Africans.
For media queries or to arrange an interview contact:
Coordinator SATAWU CEC Task Team
+27 51 813 9025
SATAWU Media Officer
+27 11 403 2077