The Western Cape Government is working on legislation that would hold the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) accountable for the mismanagement of the province’s train infrastructure.
Premier Helen Zille announced this in her latest Daily Maverick column released on Monday. The column discusses the economic impact of bad policy and corruption in national government. Eskom and PRASA are mentioned in particular for their negative impact on residents.
Premier Zille highlighted the dire state of the province’s metrorail system, which has been regressing over the years under PRASA’s management.
“The management of the country’s rail system falls under national government, through an effective monopoly. [PRASA]’s mismanagement is crippling a once vibrant rail-based commuter system in Cape Town,” said Premier Zille.
“When one reads about PRASA's purchase of rolling stock that is too tall for our rail system, and the Guptas creaming R5-billion (or 20%) off the purchase price of new locomotives, it fuels my determination to pass provincial legislation that will hold the national government accountable for such gross dereliction of duty. We are determined to ensure that such legislation is passed within this term of office,” Premier Zille said.
There has been a 400% increase in train cancellations in the Western Cape over the past two years, according to a recent presentation to the provincial standing committee for transport.
Seemingly simple and routine repairs also take months – such as the replacement of a signal box on the Southern line, which has dragged on for 32 weeks. This has caused extreme disruption to the service, with commuters having to rely on a slow and unpredictable shuttle between certain stations.
As a result, many are turning to road-based transport, adding to the massive congestion problem that has developed in Cape Town, and which constitutes a further brake on growth.
“The national government continues banging on about how South Africa’s number one priority is economic growth and job creation. This disjuncture between what is said and done, occurs in almost every policy sphere,” said Premier Zille.
The Western Cape Government’s legal team was looking into the proposed legislation which would be tabled once a draft was completed.