Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has slammed the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) for sitting on R20 billion meant for infrastructure, while their trains had fatal accidents and their security company was inadequate.
The minister criticised the railway agency, while visiting six orphans who lost their parents when two Metrorail trains collided in Mountainview, Pretoria, last week, killing four and injuring more than 600 people.
Sarah and Dick Sekoma both died while travelling with three of their six children. The train collided with another due to a breakdown in communication between a control officer and a driver, said Prasa.
The Sekoma children are aged between 18 and three years old, with three still wrapped in bandages due to crash injuries. Visiting the family at their Soshanguve home yesterday, Nzimande blamed Prasa for not upgrading their technology.
“Manual signalling is dangerous. There is a lot of technology in the world. We need to be looking at technology. We have Prasa that sits with close to R20 billion unspent on infrastructure, and we are not able to put in basic things, such as trains being able to detect each other.”
But the accident was also attributed to cable theft, the minister said last week, which was “unacceptable” as it could have been curbed by Prasa’s security. “I don’t deal with supply chain management.
But we can’t be dealing with the same security companies that are chowing hundreds of millions of rand.
We aren’t seeing any benefits.” The rail agency had disregarded a court order, ordering them to improve safety on its operations.
Prasa CEO Sibusiso Sithole admitted the tragedy made the entity realise they failed to attend to some pressing issues.