Prasa gets flak for no safety plan
EMBATTLED: ALARM OVER SHORTAGE OF SPARE PARTS
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.