Following the recent arrival of the AFRO 4000 locomotives, newly appointed transport minister Joe Maswanganyi made his way to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) depot in Johannesburg to inspect them.

Money had been set aside for the long distance locomotives as Prasa’s Shosholoza Meyl trains could no longer cope with the demand to transport passengers to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Beitbridge in Musina.

“Issues” at Prasa

Maswanganyi acknowledged that there were currently “issues” being experienced at Prasa, however added that the company and the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) assured him that the challenges could be resolved.

The company has recently been in the spotlight over several issues including the letting go of former acting CEO Collins Letsoalo, dealing with wage disputes, a recent Shosholoza Meyl train accident, and is possibly facing a R5 million penalty for failure to comply with the signalling safety requirements.

Maswanganyi said he believed there would be resolutions, and added that the sooner they were resolved, the better for the sake of commuters.

“… As the Minister of Transport, what I am interested in, is that the sooner the issues get resolved and people get transported the better,” he said.

Maswanganyi reiterated his mandate is to deliver efficient, reliable and safe trains to the South African public and said there was huge demand for them, and that the public “want the trains to get onto the tracks as soon as possible”.

“Somehow, we’ve been failing them with the delays and shortage of trains, more especially in the Western Cape where passengers end up vandalising our trains, which we discourage in the strongest terms,” he said.

“The sooner the challenges are resolved, the sooner we see the trains transporting our people.”