South Africa: Prasa’s Shocking Decline Exposed in Scopa Meeting

Please find an attached soundbite by Benedicta van Minnen MP

It is clear that PRASA, as the implementation arm of the Department of Transport is not fulfilling its objectives to “ensure that rail commuter services are providing within, to and from the Republic, and to provide long haul passenger rail and bus services within, to and from the Republic” and its shocking audit history over the last few years would indicate that nothing is likely to change going forward.

At the Scopa meeting held today to examine the latest audit results, neither the Board nor the Minister inspired any confidence nor any clear explanation as to why their audits have declined from qualified audits in 2016/17 and 2017/18 to the last three consecutive disclaimers up until 2020/21.

Corruption and ineptitude have consequences, and nowhere is this clearer than in the decline in rail and rail usage in South Africa, and the cost of this failure is being borne on the shoulders of the poor.

Prasa has declined so badly since its inception that the majority of working-class South Africans who use the affordable service for transport have had to turn to more expensive modes of transport, usually in the private sphere.

Recent studies show that 80% of South African train commuters – about 550 000 people- have abandoned rail in the last decade, and Prasa admits to losing millions of Rands of income in the last few years of utter chaos at the entity.

In fact, Prasa told Scopa today that it relies on State grants in order to operate with its income from commuter use having sharply declined. And that does not even take into account the billions lost in vandalised and stolen stock, infrastructure and buildings.

The wholesale destruction and theft of the rail infrastructure has been going on for years. But during lockdown, with no security personnel around due to bungled contracts, perpetrators escalated their efforts. The extent of the looting of the country’s rail network has been highlighted in various media outlets over recent months. The figures given to Scopa today were that 454 people have been arrested over the last 8 months with 118 court cases seeing 765 years of combined prison sentence for perpetrators. There are still 186 suspects awaiting trial in 85 pending court cases.

However as long as government entities and departments do not work together to curb metal theft and the trade in stolen scrap metal this theft and vandalism is unlikely to decline.

I have submitted Parliamentary questions on the declining passenger numbers and income as well as the amount of state grants awarded to Prasa over the last five years. The submission today in Scopa already provides an indication of what the answers to these questions will reveal, namely that this entity will need to be declared insolvent. That would mean that the only way to save South Africa’s collapsed rail system, would be to assign various lines to the relevant municipalities – as the DA has called for in the City of Cape Town.

If President Ramaphosa won’t fire any of his crooks and freeloaders in Cabinet, we will take that burden off his hands and do it for him. Co-sign our motion for Parliament to remove Cabinet:


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