DA to request access to Prasa locomotive contracts

The Democratic Alliance says it will on Monday submit an application in terms of section 18 (1) of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to obtain the tender contract details of the acquisition of the Afro4000 diesel locomotives from the Spanish company Vossloh Espana.

This comes as the preliminary investigative report into the train derailment in Kimberley earlier this month by the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) found that the data extrapolated from the train for use in the investigation was in Spanish.

This could have been a factor in the recent derailment of a passenger train in which 63 people were injured in the Northern Cape earlier this month‚ DA spokesman on transport matters‚ Manny de Freitas‚ said on Monday.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) imported 13 brand new locomotives 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. This forms part of the full contract of 70 locomotives to the tune of R3.5 billion.

“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. South Africa deserves to see the records and how these trains were acquired and under what terms and conditions‚” De Freitas stated.

He added: “It is unacceptable to note 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. The DA will continue to pressure Minister Peters to take charge and get to the bottom of the mess that Prasa has become.”

De Freitas said the DA would also write to the Public Protector‚ Adv Thuli Madonsela‚ to request that‚ in her second investigation into Prasa‚ she includes a probe into why the controversial newly-acquired Afro 4000 locomotives only “speak” Spanish.

“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.”