Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says the process to address the dire state of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) is firmly on track and significant progress has been made in a number of areas.

“It is common cause that we inherited a broken organisation in dire straits. Through the Shareholders Compact we concluded with the Board, we seek to address the challenges with speed, in a systematic and focused manner,” the Minister said on Monday.

In a statement, the Minister said when he came into office in 2019, a process to address the state of the entity was set.

“The narrative that seeks to create an impression that there is a crisis at PRASA requires that we set the record straight.

“The Board of Control we appointed in 2020 is making progress in building the necessary capacity, while providing leadership in enabling PRASA to deliver on its mandate,” Mbalula said.

The Minister said he has been briefed on a number of significant decisions the Board has taken, which include the termination of employment of the Group CEO, a matter currently before the courts.

“The report of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) implicates approximately 44 officials in wrong-doing, and the Board is implementing consequences management in this regard.

“The Board is equally giving urgent attention to serious allegations made against one of the executives, while tackling, among others, the challenge of ghost workers through an internal campaign, Operation Ziveze,” the Minister said.

He said he has comfort that the Board has its eye on the ball and is making headway in addressing chronic challenges that have undermined PRASA’s ability to deliver on its mandate in the past.

“Operational decisions relating to appointments, suspensions and termination of contracts of employees are matters that fall within the purview of the Board.

“The established accountability protocols are fully functional, and I am regularly informed when the Board makes significant decisions that are of a strategic nature or impact on policy implementation,” the Minister said.

The Minister has encouraged the Board to take the public into its confidence on the interventions it is making to steady the ship and the decisions it is taking as part of ensuring that the modernisation of passenger rail moves with the necessary speed, led by capable individuals.

“Such a step will obviate the need for others to speculate on the state of PRASA and make unfounded statements,” the Minister said.

In the new year, the Department of Transport will provide a comprehensive update to the nation on the progress we have made in implementing the PRASA Corporate Plan and the Shareholders’ Compact.

“This update will also include the White Paper on National Rail Policy, which will be tabled before Cabinet in the new year.

“Our efforts to turn around PRASA will not take us 30 years, but will deliver tangible results in the coming year. Most of the corridors that were shut down will be back to full operation in the new year, including the central line in Cape Town and the Mabopane line in Tshwane,” the Minister said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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