Prasa welcomes revoking of suspension, pledges safety compliance

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Prasa protection services at a train station. (Jenni Evans/News24)
Prasa protection services at a train station. (Jenni Evans/News24)

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) on Sunday said that it welcomed the revoking of a safety permit suspension notice which had been issued previously by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR).

"The rescission of the suspension notice by the court, cannot be interpreted by management as absolving Prasa from its duty to ensure the safety of commuters and compliance with Safety Permit conditions," Prasa board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama said in a statement.

She said Prasa's decision to approach the court in order to have the permit notice set aside, "was solely to avoid what could have been a national crisis if the notice was carried out".

Kweyama said that while the court order preventing the suspension was appreciated, nevertheless, Prasa was determined not to "put this country on a knife edge ever again as a result of us defaulting on our commitment and responsibility to ensure the safety of the commuters".

Group CEO Sibusiso Sithole reiterated the point, saying that "compliance with the RSR Safety Permit Conditions is non-negotiable".

'Judicial case management'

"I personally will be putting stringent monitoring measures that will guarantee the safety of our operations and that of the commuters we serve," he added.

This week, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria rescinded a suspension notice issued by the RSR, and instead issued a supervisory order instructing Prasa to comply with the safety requirements set out by the regulator.

The regulatory body communicated its intention last week to revoke Prasa's safety permit because of a train-to-train collision on October 4, near Van Riebeeck Station in Kempton Park, which occurred during manual authorisation.

"Compliance with the terms of the court order will henceforth be mentioned under judicial case management by Judge Cassim Sardiwalla," RSR spokesperson Madelein Williams said earlier this week.

Prasa would be required to comply with the safety requirements prescribed by the RSR and provide periodic feedback to the regulatory body and to Sardiwalla.

The matter will now return to court on June 19, 2019, when the overall compliance with the order will be assessed.

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