DA to probe PRASA’s contract to Vossloh Espana
Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Transport, Manny de Freitas, has indicated that the party would be submitting an application to obtain the details of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA) awarding of a R3.5-billion locomotive contract to Spanish manufacturer Vossloh Espana.
The party’s announcement comes after a weekend Rapport article revealed that the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) were unable to decode data from the crashed Afro 4000 diesel locomotive, as all of the computer systems were in Spanish.
A reported 64 passengers were injured when the 11-coach Shosholoza Meyl train partially derailed on August 18th near the small town of Modderrivier in the Northern Cape. Reports have suggested that the train, which was heading from Johannesburg to Cape Town, might have been travelling to fast on a section of track that had been undergoing construction.
PRASA has however denied that the accident had anything to do with the train’s exceeding of imposed height restriction on sections with overhead wires, attributing the crash to a lack of communication and the aforementioned repairs.
“They [PRASA) imported these 13 brand new trains, to the value of R600 million, which were found to be too tall for the country’s railway network - and now it is alleged that the trains are also not linguistically compatible,” de Freitas said in a statement.
“The specifics, such as the language compatibility and technical training requirements of the tender contract must be made public in the interests of transparency and openness”.
He also stated that the party would be submitting the matter for investigation to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela as part of her second PRASA report, adding that government’s lack of comment remains a major concern.
“It is unacceptable that the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters and the Portfolio Committee Chairperson on Transport, Dikeledi Magadzi, have to date, not yet responded to our request to have the board summoned to appear before Parliament and that the Ministry conduct its own full-scale investigation,” de Freitas said.
“Millions of South Africans rely on trains to get to their place of work. It is vital that we have a passenger rail agency acting in their best interest and that is safe, reliable and fully operational”.
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