The United National Transport Union (UNTU) would like to congratulate Mmuso Selaledi, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), and his team on the safety regulator’s “major facelift” with its new corporate identity, but firmly believes that rail safety requires much more than the changing of a logo.
“The mandate of the RSR is to develop and enforce a robust railway safety management system for the country. It is unfortunate that UNTU, Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) bears witness to the continued destruction of rail infrastructure which is the main cause of the increase in the derailments of trains,” says Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU.
According to Harris, neither Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula nor the Board of the RSR responded to UNTU’s plea in May 2021 that it is high time that a permanent chief executive officer (CEO) is appointed at the RSR.
“It is very disturbing that it has been almost four years that the RSR, the statutory watchdog entrusted to oversee rail safety in South Africa, has been left without a permanent appointment in this vital position. The continued delay in the appointment in this vacancy can never be in the best interest of rail safety.
“The result is that the RSR has been silent to date on the continued sabotage attacks on Transnet and Prasa,” says Harris.
The RSR had to make do with acting chief executive officers since November 2017 when the then CEO, Nkululeko Poya was placed on suspension pending allegations of misconduct. Poya resigned in June 2019.
According to Harris the Minister also failed to address the Union’s concerns about the RSR’s ability to act as watchdog over Prasa.
“Prasa and the RSR reports to the Transport Minister. UNTU believes this creates an unhealthy situation which compromises the safety regulator’s responsibility to act against Prasa when needs be.
“It has been two years since UNTU and its affiliated federation, the Federation of Trade Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), called on President Ramaphosa to address this by making the Minister of Public Enterprises responsible for Prasa, while the Transport Minister remains responsible for the regulator.
Ramaphosa failed to respond to this demand,” says Harris.