#TrainCrash: Without rail security Prasa will become 'an ATM'‚ says Blade Nzimande

Emergency services personnel and police are on scene working to help passengers injured in a train accident in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Emergency services personnel and police are on scene working to help passengers injured in a train accident in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Image: Supplied

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will become "an ATM" if security companies cannot provide rail safety‚ transport minister Blade Nzimande has warned.

“I know money has no morality. I learnt that a long time ago‚” Nzimande said on Tuesday during a media briefing at the Mountain View train station in the west of Pretoria following a collision near the station in which four people died and 620 others were injured.

“No security company must get a tender from Prasa if it is not able to demonstrate what it has done in order to be able to deal with this. Otherwise‚ we turn Prasa into an ATM. And it’s not just an ATM‚ it’s people’s lives.”

Nzimande said the accident caused R21m in damages.

“I believe that if we are able to sort out security between Prasa security and the police and working with the communities‚ we can actually find a solution and close these leakages of people who think they are just going to be getting cheap tenders.

“I don’t know how do people sleep when we’ve got a tender and people are mourning today. They’ve got their loved ones in mortuaries.”

Nzimande said cable theft led to signalling systems going down‚ forcing train drivers to use manual authorisation. A manual authorisation is when the two control officers in different stations are not speaking to each other and allow train drivers to continue on their route.

Nzimande wants Prasa management and the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) to compile reports on the crash in the next few days.

“How come we are spending so much money on security‚ yet we continue having cable theft? … It looks like it’s business as usual [for criminals].

“We have got state-owned companies being looted‚ being skinned‚ and these are the products of it. People are suffering. It’s ordinary working class people who are being killed.”

Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said earlier the two trains were travelling on the same line from Mabopane to Pretoria.

Prasa suspended trains running between Pretoria‚ Mabopane and De Wildt until further notice. Buses will transport commuters who have valid weekly and monthly passes until Prasa reopens the line.

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