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Prasa's In The Throes Of An 'Unprecedented Crisis', An Internal Report Reveals


The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will collapse if the "unprecedented and existential" crises affecting almost every part of it's business is not tackled and resolved, an internal report states.
It is beset by crises affecting "almost every area", including in operations, engineering, financial, human capital and governance, according to the report obtained by The HuffPost SA, which states that service is "poor, unreliable, and unsafe".
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will collapse if the "unprecedented and existential" crises affecting almost every part of it's business is not tackled and resolved.
Titled "Prasa Turnaround Strategy", the report — which is in draft form — was circulated among staff on Tuesday and paints a picture of an organisation in chaos, unable to deliver on its mandate and losing passengers. It identifies the company's main problems and makes various recommendations which is supposed to effect change in three to twelve months.
Prasa admits in the report's introduction it is only able to deliver on about 40% of its total offering to customers. It further states:
  • More than 1 800 coaches, or 40% of its fleet, are out of service;
  • Prasa is only able to supply 248 daily sets of trains against the requirement of 287;
  • 10% of peak-time trains are cancelled daily;
  • Nearly a third of all delays are caused by infrastructure problems;
  • Train speed restrictions have been increased due to deterioration of train tracks; and
  • Metrorail lost 25%, or 73 million, of its passengers year-on-year during the first six months of the 2016/'17 financial year.
"The crisis is different from the challenges Prasa has faced before, in that it affects almost every area of the business," the report reads.
"A fragmented engineering function, divided between Prasa Rail Engineering and Prasa Technical, has led to a near collapse in the engineering value chain within Prasa, with no single point of accountability for engineering in the business. A major outcome of this fragmentation is the large number — 1 827, or 40% — of coaches that are out of service."
A fragmented engineering function . . . has led to a near collapse in the engineering value chain within Prasa
Revenues are also in steep decline. This is due to the operational crisis, which is seeing the commuter rail business struggling with an inadequate state subsidy that mainly covers the salary bill.
Prasa is also "overstaffed in general and understaffed in critical areas".
"An abusive culture and terrible treatment of employees on the one hand, and a lackadaisical attitude towards work by many employees on the other have permeated [through] Prasa for years. Prasa is faced with an unproductive workforce and lack of leadership at senior management levels," the report states.
Corporate governance is "weak" while in some areas proper control is non-existent. "This has bred a culture of profligacy that has contributed to the financial crisis and has resulted in Prasa receiving adverse findings from the auditor-general, including findings on irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure."
The impact of the widespread crisis, as identified in the report, is seen in statistics on the availability of passenger trains, punctuality of services, a drop in customer satisfaction, declining passenger numbers and increased journey times.
"This impact is being borne by the most valuable of stakeholders, Metrorail commuters, by being late for work, missing school and exams, being dismissed for coming late and some employers deciding not to employ Metrorail commuters."
This impact is being borne by the most valuable of stakeholders, Metrorail commuters, by being late for work, missing school and exams, being dismissed for coming late and some employers deciding not to employ Metrorail commuters
Some of the turnaround plans include retrenchment of staff, automisation and increased fares.
The auditor-general earlier this month found that in the previous financial year Prasa was guilty of irregular expenditure of almost R14-billion. It has been mired in controversy ever since revelations that its former chief executive, Lucky Montana, paid billions of rands for engines that are incompatible with local conditions.

Lillian Mofokeng, Prasa spokesperson, commented: "Your media enquiry is based on an internal leaked document and we do not respond to leaked documents."
Source: huffingtonpost
Khabza Mkhize

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