Prasa suspension may result in nationwide shutdown of all rail services

The possible suspension of Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) operation permit may result in a nationwide shutdown of Metrorail services, the City of Cape Town said.

The intention to revoke Prasa’s Safety Permit emanated from a train-to-train collision on October 4 near Van Riebeeck Station in Kempton Park during manual authorisation, Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani confirmed.

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for transport Brett Herron called on transport minister Dr Blade Nzimande to declare rail services a national disaster.

"My call on the Minister for him to consider the powers he has to bring an emergency response is clearly required," he said.

"Emergency funds and fast-tracking procurement for critical services is what is needed. It is the appropriate response to the scale and urgency of the problem."

Nzimande had previously refused to declare a state of emergency and criticised the Democratic Alliance of politicking.

"This call by the DA is dishonest, opportunistic and political manoeuvering that seeks to exploit the dire situation confronting rail services in the Western Cape," Nzimande said.

"I rebut this political posturing in the strongest terms."

Herron claims that the possible suspension will have a negative impact on the City’s weakened rail system.

"Shutting down the most important mode of public transport is not a decision that would be taken easily," Herron said.

"Grinding rail commuting to a halt will impact millions of South Africans."

Prasa requested the regulator to limit the suspension to the Gauteng region, specifically Kempton Park.

Zenani said that the passenger rail had only been given two hours to respond to the regulatory body’s letter.

Chairperson of the Prasa board Khanyisile Kweyama said that management is in the process of responding to the regulatory body.

"We are hoping that the Safety Regulator will give due consideration to the response to be provided by management, noting that Prasa was given a short time to respond".

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