1 minute read
22 Jan 2019
9:40 am

What is the biggest problem at Prasa?

Railway expert Dr Willem Sprong has put forward good ideas to fix the Prasa mess, but there's a huge locomotive in the room.

Image used for illustrative purposes. Firefighters try to extinguish a fire on a Metrorail train in 2017. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp

It seems that someone who thinks the mess at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) can be fixed is living in a dream world.

Yet, railway expert Dr Willem Sprong, who has more than two decades experience in the rail sector and been “intimately involved” with Prasa for the past eight years, believes it can be done.

And he deserves an ear.

He says train stations and rail reserves should be made a priority – both in terms of security and maintenance, so that the current phenomenon of people refusing to pay fares can be reversed. He doesn’t believe the security companies contracted to guard Prasa infrastructure are worth it and that the billions they cost annually should rather be spent on the SA Police.

Municipalities and their town planning departments should also work together with the rail service provider to help secure the rail reserves perimeters.

Sprong says a “broken window” policy should be applied and issues rectified as soon as they are reported. Prasa also needs to attend to maintenance, which is not happening and is a cause of incidents and derailments.

Good ideas – but the enormous locomotive in the room remains: what about corruption?

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