Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s decision to place the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) under administration has been well received.
But one expert questioned why it had not happened sooner, and why former board members had not been arrested and charged.
Mbalula announced at a press briefing yesterday his decision to dissolve the interim Prasa board after conducting a review of the performance of the board and the entity as a whole.
He found “Prasa has deep-rooted challenges that require decisive interventions at leadership and management levels”.
“Since the interim board’s appointment, the affairs of the entity have not improved but have regressed … following two financial years of stagnant audit outcomes,” said Mbalula.
Having considered the issues within the enterprise and with approval from Cabinet to stabilise Prasa’s operational performance, he had “decided to dissolve the interim board and place Prasa under administration with immediate effect”.
“The administrator will run the affairs of Prasa as a de facto board of control,” he said.
Mbalula introduced Bongisizwe Mpondo as the administrator who would lead the intervention for 12 months. He said while Mpondo was the official replacement of the board, a permanent board would be recruited within six months.
The United National Transport Union (Untu) said it welcomed the minister’s decision, having spoken out publicly about its objection to the previous board.
“Prasa’s infrastructure, stations and depots have been targeted by criminals over the past five weeks, after the former board decided to terminate the contracts of 3,000 private security officials,” said Steve Harris, the union’s general secretary.
“Nothing came of the promises the former board made, saying that they would be replaced with police officials, who would have been deployed on November 11.
“Untu realises the minister had no alternative but to implement drastic measures. We commended him for his bold actions and will support and contribute to the efforts made to ensure that the 14 000 jobs provided by Prasa are not affected.”
Economist Mike Schussler welcomed the announcement about Prasa going under administration, saying it was long overdue. He said the railway service had already lost three-quarters of its paying passengers, who had to find alternative forms of transports due to safety risks and inefficiency.
“In a way, it is worse than Eskom because of the impact it has on the poor and the voiceless,” said Schussler. “There has been so much cheating and corruption and why there has not been anyone locked up is a mystery.
“But this is a large step in the right direction.”
Meet the administrator
Prasa administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo briefs media in Johannesburg, 9 December 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula announced yesterday he had appointed an “educated practitioner in the field of transportation” to administer Prasa.
According to his company website, Safiri, where he serves as a managing director, administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo has extensive experience in the fields of transportation planning, development planning, project management and strategy development.
Mbalula described him as a man with “an extensive record in corporate governance and working with public institutions”.
The entrepreneur has also served on the boards of a number of public entities.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.
BACK TO CITIZEN
BACK TO PREMIUM
The Citizen. All rights