I am going to fix Prasa, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula tells Parliament

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Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Gallo Images/Lefty Shivambu
  • Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the department was working to get Prasa back in shape.
  • Mbalula said the rail agency was due to implement some ambitious programmes, but that these did not amount to privatisation.
  • He said projects including taking "the Gautrain model" to KwaZulu-Natal and a monorail projects would require private partner participation.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said those who were guilty of misconduct at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) would be punished and that he was working to get the rail agency back in shape by implementing some ambitious programmes.

Prasa's ill-fated contracts with companies like Swifambo for goods and services such as security and locomotive have been a prominent subject of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Prasa's most recent audit report by the Auditor General last year gave the passenger rail agency a disclaimed audit opinion for the second year in a row, with the office of the Auditor General highlighting its unreliable financial statements and lack of financial discipline.

DA MP Tim Brauteseth asked Mabalula in a supplementary question if he would work with Police Minister Bheki Cele on the rogue contracts in road and rail development that have dogged the department.

Replying to questions in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday afternoon, Mbalula said Prasa would also be working to repair and reopen passenger rail corridors with security present to ensure that government latest maintenance and repair efforts are not vandalised.

"I don't put aside your suggestions of a joint inter-ministerial approach to this matter. I think it is an important suggestion to look at, because in the Department of Transport we are big in construction in road and rail and we are greatly affected by these criminal elements," said Mbalula.

'Making progress'

Mbalula said the Department of Transport was making progress in positioning Prasa to undertake projects including taking "the Gautrain model" to KwaZulu-Natal for the growing population in that province and stalled monorail projects.

EFF MP Andrew Arnolds asked Mbalula if plans to get into partnerships with the private sector to roll out these programmes was a sign of government's intention to privatise the agency. Mbalula said this was not the case.

"There is no plan to privatise Prasa. We have no such mandate under law. We are saying there are branch lines at Prasa that would be of great importance to our transport strategy. Those are branch lines we can expand working with the private sector. So, it's not privatisation," Mbalula said.

Mbalula also took the opportunity to stress that he was keeping an eye on the larger contracts at Prasa, adding that he was not shy about refusing to clear contracts that did not adhere to the highest government procurement standards.

"We have closed the taps in terms of elements of criminality. We have just turned back a big tender which was full of mistakes and all of that. I said we are not going back to Swifambo and things like that under my watchful eye. All big tenders must be processed," said Mbalula.

The State Capture Inquiry heard from former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana this past week, with Montana denying various allegations against him, including that businesses that got irregular contracts with the agency rewarded him by helping him scoop R36 million in properties.

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