396 Shosholoza train carriages to become scrap metal

Issued by Chris Hunsinger MP – DA Shadow Minister of Transport
10 Nov 2022 in News

The Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (Prasa) recently announced that it will scrap 396 Shosholoza Meyl (SM) carriages.

It is very concerning that questions about these write-offs and the process that is being followed was met with a simple reply of “it is an internal document” and therefore the required information cannot be shared.

The DA is not convinced that ditching these carriages to a scrapyard is the best option. Secondly, there should be clarity on the protocol of how to deal with outdated/written-off assets, Prasa should have a standard practice with a clear modus operandi. The public office does not accommodate secretively “internal only” processes, particularly not when money is involved.

The DA questions the status of these 396 carriages given that the replacement cost of one carriage is R4 million. Of the 396 about 155 were left on Prasa’s lot at their Pretoria Bosman Street Station for more than 10 years, with no effort to maintain or refurbish. Taxpayers and commuters will now pay the price for this.

The DA will demand that Prasa explain to the Portfolio Committee on Transport (PCoT) at the committee’s next session on why this process cannot be made public.

Shosholoza was a crucial service for travelling between main cities in South Africa, when it was functional. Especially for its lower cost, with long-distance travellers paying about R500 on average to travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

The Railway agency says only 22 carriages will be refurbished out of 396 in this financial year meaning 370+ will end up in a scrapyard.

The DA will also call for a detailed report in the form of an audit on the state of the coaches/wagons intended to be written off. Why these coaches can’t be reused/repurposed given the needs we have is a mystery. Have all options been considered such as Clinics, crèches and tourism facilities?

If the coaches are found to be suitable for reuse, an open tender process should be considered given the wide scope of second-hand use.