Madonsela readies PRASA report as locos are halted on certain routes

BY CHARL BOSCH - AUGUST 24, 2015

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela will reportedly release her findings into alleged financial maladministration at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) later today.

The report was originally secluded for release on July 23rd, but delayed to allow for more representation from “implicated parties”.

It has been alleged that the findings, of which a section was printed by the Sunday Times two weeks ago, points to wide scale financial mismanagement involving the rail provider’s former CEO Lucky Montana, who was fired last month.

These include his awarding of a R1.1-billion tender without the correct procedures being followed, firing three executives improperly, continuing to pay rent on an office PRASA vacated over a year before, and taking unauthorised rides aboard Blue Train even though the luxury service is owned by a division by of state-owned Transnet Freight Rail (TFR).

Montana has however denied any wrong doing, describing his dismissal as the result of a vendetta held against him by the Group’s Chairperson, Popo Molefe.

It has meanwhile been reported that the embattled rail provider was forced to withdraw its controversial R600-million Afro 4000 diesel locomotives from a number of their intended long distance routes, following last week’s accident near Modderrivier in the Northern Cape.

According to a weekend CityPress article, the locomotives, which were last month exposed as having exceeded imposed height restrictions on sections with overhead wires, will only be used the country’s 25 kilovolt and non-electric lines due to the unsuitability of sections with three kilovolts.

This means that they would only be allowed to travel on seven routes across the country, before being swapped with a different kind of locomotive. These include the routes from Kimberly-Beaufort West, Springfontein-East London, De Aar-Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay-Ermelo, Pyramid South-Polokwane, Pyramid South-Rustenberg and Pyramid South-Atlanta.

In an apparent back tracking however, PRASA has now indicated that none of the remaining 12 Afro 4000’s would be used for long distances hauls, stating that it would be more cost effective to use electric locomotives instead of diesel.

“PRASA’s Afro 4000 diesel locomotive deployment plan has prioritised operating these [locomotives] on the 25kV and diesel lines, and that is why PRASA did not contest Transnet’s acceptance to operate the Afro 4000 diesel locomotives on these lines, as it is in line with our deployment plan,” the company told the paper in a statement, adding that discussions are ongoing with Transnet about repairs to the three kilovolt lines. 

 

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