Cyril Ramaphosa

President Ramaphosa, Please Step Up and Stabilise PRASA

It is time for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step-up and take drastic action to save the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) from complete ruin as it is currently being steered by an irrational Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande, and Board of Directors of Prasa.

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) has been begging Ramaphosa for the past three years to act to save Prasa but had to hear that his diary was too busy to address this ruined state-owned enterprises (SOE) that has been continuously unable to fulfil its mandate: to provide safe and reliable transport to the poorest of the poor.

Prasa incompetence over the last three years has claimed the lives of more than six South African commuters, a train driver and a security guard, and resulted in injuries to more than 1 400 commuters and countless attacks on innocent Prasa employees, of whom UNTU represents the majority.

“Government has allowed Prasa to date to play “Ring Around the Rosie” with its management since the former Chief Executive Officer, Lucky Montana, was fired with immediate effect on 16 July 2015 without considering the devastating effect the lack of a proper passenger rail system has on the troubled South African economy with its unemployment rate of 27.1%.

“From July 2015 to date, Prasa had five Acting CEO’s and today appointed number six, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, about to start with his new duties tomorrow. This comes a month after Nzimande informed parliament that Prasa will have a permanent CEO by April 2019. This is shocking and simply cannot be tolerated,” says Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU.

This comes after the Board announced that it was a mutual decision that Sibusiso Sithole resigns after nine months in the chair and just three months before his contract would have ended.

“Sithole, a former municipal manager, only made empty promises to this Union, but at least after nine months, could have continued for another month until the appointment of a permanent CEO.

“Although Dr Sishi has an excellent CV when it comes to education, training and managing public finances, he has got zero rail expertise. What is the use of appointing someone in an acting position who will need at least six months to familiarise himself with the operational side? At the end of the day, trains are derailing, colliding and not running on time due to the lack of maintenance of the ailing infrastructure

“At least two of the previous Acting CEO’s, were available at the snap of a finger. Lindikhaya Zide, who acted twice in the past two years, is part of Prasa’s executive management, while Collins Letsoalo works for the Department of Transport (DoT),” says Harris.

Ramaphosa has not yet responded to the letter Harris wrote to him on 29 January 2019. Find attached

In the meantime, UNTU through its affiliated federation with the Federation of Trade Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), lodged a SECTION 77 application at NEDLAC.

Harris will be addressing NEDLAC on Prasa on 7 March 2019.

The Section 77 process refers to Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act which speaks to protest action to promote or defend socio-economic interests of workers.

The intention of this section is primarily to bring disputing parties together to engage on a matter in order to find resolution, and at the same time to try and prevent any protest action which is burdensome to both worker and employers and negatively affects the economy.

By: SONJA CARSTENS | Twitter: @JJBdMedia

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