How many lives should be lost before PRASA prioritizes rail safety?

Written by Manny De Freitas MP – DA Shadow Minister of Transport
09 Jan 2018 in News

PRASA has once again proved that it is unable to guarantee the safety of passengers on its trains after 200 commuters were injured today in a train collision in Germiston.

The DA wishes the injured commuters a speedy recovery.

In view of these recurring accidents, there is need to institute a comprehensive review of rail safety to ensure that urgent remedial action is taken to improve rail safety.

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Transport, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, to summon Minister Joe Maswanganyi and PRASA executives to come and account on the steps they will take to improve rail safety.

While the cause of the Germiston accident is yet to be established, it comes barely a week after the tragic train crash in the Free State which claimed 19 lives and saw hundreds more hospitalized.

PRASA must co-operate with the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) on the ongoing investigations into the accidents. The RSR should in turn ensure that reports of the investigations are released as a matter of urgency.

The two accidents are emblematic of poor investment in safety-related rail infrastructure. In the 2016/17 financial year, 495 fatalities and 2 079 injuries were recorded on South Africa’s rail network.

Everyday, poor and working class South Africans use trains to travel to and from work, yet they are exposed to unsafe trains which pose a risk to their lives.

It is grossly unfair that while PRASA loses millions of rands to corruption, millions of commuters are left to grapple with a compromised and unsafe rail system.

For far too long, PRASA and Minister Maswanganyi have turned a blind eye to our collapsing rail infrastructure. The DA will ensure that they account for their lack of interest in improving rail safety.