The United National Transport Union (UNTU) seriously questions the competence of the Railway Safety Regular (RSR) as the watch dog over rail safety and with the obligation to ensure compliance with safety regulations in South Africa.
The United National Transport Union (UNTU) calls on the Transport Minister Fikile Mbulula to dissolve the current Board of the RSR, who has been appointed on a month to month base since their contacts expired in October last year, says Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU.
“To date the RSR has taken no accountability or even attempted to approach the Gauteng North High Court to review its two court orders because of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) inability to adhere to rail safety provisions.
“The RSR has no teeth and cannot be compared to other watch dog institutions like Civil Aviation. If Civil Aviation grounds an airline, it remains grounded until it is declared safe to start operating again. The RSR on the other hand, simply turns a blind eye,” says Harris.
This comes after two trains collided last night killing a passenger less than two weeks after the RSR extended Prasa’s safety operating permit knowing that the rail infrastructure network of this state-owned enterprise (SOE’s) and that of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) who share the same infrastructure are in its worst state ever.
Prasa and TFR have been targeted by criminals in the worst ever vandalism spree after the dismantled former Board of Prasa decided to cancel the contracts of twenty security companies without putting an alternative in its place.
Last night the Premier Class passenger train collided with a stationary TFR train between Roodepoort and Horizon in Johannesburg causing damage amounting to millions of rands to the assets of both TFR and Prasa and its infrastructure.
Harris says UNTU would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of the passenger who passed on in the collision. “This could have been prevented if the RSR had adhered to its core mandate,” says Harris.
Four passengers have been injured and taken to hospital for treatment. UNTU wishes them a speedy recovery.
Prasa and the RSR will be appearing in front of Judge Cassim Sardiwalla on 26 February 2020 for a “Final Compliance Assessment Conference” after the judge issued two court orders on 12 October 2018 and on 20 June 2019 for Prasa to comply with, to continue operations and for the RSR to monitor and evaluate Prasa’s implementation. Both parties had to submit monthly reports to the judge.
On 31 January 2020 the RSR extended Prasa’s safety operation permit for another three months while being aware of the challenges the SOE faced due to the vandalism.
Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Deputy-General Secretary responsible for Media, Liaison and Communication.