Prasa gets flak for no safety plan

EM­BAT­TLED: ALARM OVER SHORT­AGE OF SPARE PARTS

The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page - Sipho Mabena – [email protected]­i­zen.co.za

Com­muters’ lives at risk as old, worn brake pads re­cy­cled on pas­sen­ger trains.

By late yes­ter­day, the Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) still showed no signs of com­ply­ing with a de­mand to sub­mit a safety plan to ad­dress the re­ported short­age of spare parts which saw it risk­ing com­muters’ lives by re­cy­cling old, worn brake pads on its pas­sen­ger trains.

The em­bat­tled agency had un­til mid­night to pro­vide the Rail­way Safety Reg­u­la­tor (RSR) with proof that a “per­ma­nent so­lu­tion [is de­vel­oped] to pro­vide an ad­e­quate amount of new replacemen­t brake blocks at each rolling stock main­te­nance fa­cil­i­ties”.

In a let­ter ad­dressed to the agency’s act­ing boss, Zwe­lakhe Mayaba, the safety reg­u­la­tor’s in­spec­tor, Deon Bouwer, or­dered Prasa to pro­vide a cor­rec­tive plan.

He said in the let­ter that fail­ure to do so would re­sult in the in­vok­ing of the Na­tional Rail­way Safety Reg­u­la­tor Act, which could re­sult in a fine or prison time of up to 15 years for re­spon­si­ble of­fi­cials.

The in­spec­tor con­ducted a blitz in­spec­tion at Prasa’s largest de­pot, the Braam­fontein metro rolling stock main­te­nance fa­cil­ity, on 16 Jan­uary and found that there were “no new brake blocks avail­able or in stock for the replacemen­t of worn brake blocks on the train sets”.

In re­sponse, the Demo­cratic Al­liance (DA) yes­ter­day said the pub­lic had ev­ery right to know how Prasa planned to ad­dress the lack of spare parts which has re­port­edly re­sulted in tech­ni­cians sal­vaging used and worn brake pads from bins as re­place­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to the DA’s spokesper­son on trans­port, Chris Hun­singer, “the prac­tice of sal­vaging used spare parts to re­place worn parts places the lives of the mil­lions of South African rail com­muters in dan­ger”.

“We are there­fore of the view that it is in the pub­lic’s in­ter­est to know ex­actly how and when Prasa will re­stock its main­te­nance fa­cil­i­ties with new replacemen­t brake blocks,” he said. “The DA will closely mon­i­tor and fol­low up on Prasa’s progress given the in­struc­tion by RSR and wel­come this step in an ef­fort to keep our com­muters safe.”

The safety reg­u­la­tor’s spokesper­son, Madeleine Wil­liams, said Prasa had un­til mid­night last night to pro­vide the plan. RSR would have to first as­sess whether the plan ad­e­quately ad­dressed its con­cerns.

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