Executive Undertakings: Minister of Transport

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

19 May 2022
Chairperson: Mr Z Mkiva (ANC, Eastern Cape)
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Meeting Summary


NCOP: Unrevised hansard

The Minister of Transport appeared before the Committee to report on progress made on Executive undertakings made in a plenary sitting of the National Council of Provinces on 27 October 2020. This undertaking concerned the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) security spend.

Members wanted to understand if the Agency encountered any challenges from the security companies since they had started doing work for Prasa. They wanted to know how much money was allocated in relation to 2020 when the same problems were experienced. Members asked the Minister to detail how many arrests and convictions were made so far, how far Prasa was with the problem of ghost payments identified, how much was spent on the security companies and if there had been any good progress from the security companies since they started their work.

Meeting report

Mr I Sileku (DA, Western Cape) wanted to understand if there were any challenges encountered from the security companies since they started doing work for Prasa, how much the Department spent on the security companies and if there was any good progress from the security companies since they started their work.

Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, said Prasa was in the rebuilding process. Had the capacity allowed in other areas, the entity should have been far by now. The entity was hitting the ground running and the dust was coming up in terms of construction of the vandalised and dilapidated stations in a new model to be implemented. Security plans had already been implemented. Though having not much resources, the expenditure was running at high speed. He admitted he was not happy with the performance of Prasa. It was only last year that the entity recovered Mabopane. He said he was impressed with the war room and security arrangements in Mabopane station. At present, five of ten corridors have been recovered. By the end of the year, all would be recovered and would be up and running.

Mr David Mphelo, Prasa Acting Group CEO, said what was now being seen is Prasa, Eskom and Transnet being attacked. For some of the services Prasa was rendering, it relies on Transnet. An attack on Transnet was affecting the services of Prasa. The same went for Eskom. It was seen in the Western Cape where the point of delivering electricity was attacked. If it was not directed to Prasa, it went to substations of supply of Eskom. This affected their services and required collaboration in an integrated approach between Eskom, Prasa and Transnet.

Mr C Dodovu (ANC, North West) remarked that in 2020, the Minister appeared before the Select Committee in the NCOP, where he indicated the problems impacting the work of Prasa and the railway process. R900m was shifted to operations of Prasa to curb this. 274 cases of vandalism and malicious damage to property were reported. The Minister committed to increase the security capability for dealing with this particular matter effectively. In terms of the process to unfold and having 1 500 security patrol in the first phases, he wanted to know how much money was allocated in relation to 2020 when the Minister was dealing with the same problem. Vandals and criminals involved need harsher measures to be taken against them. He asked the Minister to detail how many arrests and convictions have been made.

The Minister admitted there were delays on some plans because of changes to personnel and depletion of capacity. It must be remembered Prasa is a capital-intensive company and, therefore, the procurement must be correct. Most of the delays had to do with procurement and corruption. If the procurement is incorrect, delays happen. “Now you don’t allocate one contract to one company”. He said he stopped the practice of allocating R12bn to one company. It is now R1bn per company. Companies with no capacity were given work in the past. That was a problem. Everything was discussed with the Auditor-General (AG) and the Minister expressed satisfaction with the way management resolved challenges. On the difference between 2020 and 2022, the emphasis was no longer on intention but on implementation. The Committee was welcome to do its oversight to see what was happening on the ground. There was a revolution happening at Prasa and changes were happening at a very fast pace.

Mr Mphelo reported that to date, 424 arrests had been made in connection with crime in the rail environment and infrastructure. There were 180 convictions and around 700 years in jail based on the courts. As far as the budget was concerned, it had come close to a R1b a year to protect infrastructure. Out of the R900m, R130m so far was spent on salaries of those added on the ground. The rest of it was committed to the implementation plan. Not all of the R900m was depleted, and the balance was expected to trigger phase two.

Mr K Motsamai (EFF, Gauteng) remarked that since no trains ran from Johannesburg to Katlehong and from Katlehong to Sebokeng, the situation was now terrible. Those areas where passengers used to board the trains were now harbouring the homeless who were robbing and injuring people. He wanted to know what was being done about this as no security guards were protecting such areas. People find it difficult to pass by those houses because they are afraid as they know dangerous people are staying in those houses. What was being done about security?

The Minister agreed that all stations were affected but there was a faster recovery in rebuilding the stations and corridors. There would be big changes in two months because of construction and recovery on the lines he mentioned.

Mr Dodovu asked how far the Department was with the problem of ghost payments identified.

The Minister said the matter was subjected to the forensic process at Prasa. Some of the approx 3000 people started coming back to the Department and the forensic investigation was busy with the entire scam. The final report would be presented to the Committee.

In conclusion, the Minister said not all was there yet but in August, Members would see a different approach altogether. The Mabopane corridor was a good example because blue trains were running on time and there was security, which was being replicated in other corridors as they were recovered.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and his entire team for the good work being done to ensure Prasa got out of the challenges it was facing. He stated he was happy with the progress made, which gave hope to the people Members presented.

The meeting was adjourned.


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