Prasa to tackle inefficiencies

2011-04-12 16:57

Johannesburg - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), which operates the Metrorail commuter service, has put together a 90-day action plan to deal with numerous problems with its services, CEO Tshepo Lucky Montana said on Tuesday.
Prasa has received a R19.5bn grant from the government to recapitalise its ageing fleet - one of the key sources of its problems.

The average age of its carriages is 40 years, which means trains are unreliable and breakages frequent. Montana said each train has a 100% probability of breaking down once every 48 hours.

Aside from spending money on fixing trains, Prasa has also put together a plan to fix operational inefficiencies.

For example, response to train failures takes anything from an hour and 40 minutes to two hours due to complicated bureaucratic reporting systems.

The standard response to failures on trains is supposed to be 40 minutes. Under the action plan, the process will be simpler and faster.

Prasa Rail CEO Mosenngwa Mofi, who will oversee the rescue plan, said additional maintenance will now be carried out on the trains. This will happen in the evenings and on weekends in order not to disrupt the traffic flow.

Cracking the whip

Middle management incompetency is another big problem for the group.

Montana said station managers do not discipline workers and as a result train drivers arrive late - pushing daily schedules into dissaray.

In certain cases, train drivers do not bother to turn up at all; they have on other occasions arrived for work drunk, putting the safety of passengers at work. 

Another effect of the chaos reigning at stations is long queues at ticket offices.

"There's a big problem with supervision; managers are not doing their jobs," said Montana.

Prasa has taken the decision to get rid of all ineffective managers by retrenching a third of this portion of its work force.

"I have communicated this to my employees. I am cracking the whip," said Montana.

Prasa will also test employees to ensure they are fit to drive trains. This follows an accident last week when a train driver was killed as a result of human error.

Although the tests should be already be taking place, Mofi said they are not being conducted regularly.

In the long term, Prasa will undertake a R97bn, 18-year upgrade of all of its trains, more than a third of which will be obsolete by 2013.

This upgrade is in its feasibility phase and it is still unclear what the funding sources will be. 

Prasa manages 374 stations in metropolitan areas around the country and transports 2.4 million passengers each day. It employs 13 000 people.

 - Fin24

  • J Bones - 2011-04-12 17:37

    Does not make sense to me. I have worked with railways in Europe, South America and Africa. Fact of the matter is that railway rolling stock is of a fairly simple design and build with robust material. Hence with proper scheduled maintenance it can go on for just about for ever. To replace it with new stock whilst retaining the current weakness in management will only mean that newer equipment is written off in smashes. looking at the lentgh of time it takes to train railway operational staff, I wish Mr Monatana good luck(y)with his 90 day campaign.

  • Rijger - 2011-04-13 00:43

    Mr Montana, maybe the whip cracking should start with you and your associates. As spokesperson for Prasa you are supposed to know what you are talking about when issuing statements that concern Prasa. Let's see now, according to an earlier statement a traindriver died when she passed a red robot. Geez, Mr Montana, I had 34 years of footplate experience, most of it as traindriver, section manager, etc, yet up to the date I have left Spoornet's employ, I haven't came up to one single red robot. A lot of red signals yes, for the life of me not one red robot can be remembered. Now we must read that the rolling stock is outdated and prone to mechanical breakdown, according to you a 100% chance of failure in 48 hours. Locomotives and motor coaches are built like tanks, Mr Montana. Parts are freely available, they are very easy to maintain as well as very easy to keep going if you have motivated pesonnel. But then of course for example appointing female artisans,(For the sake of AA and equity), that can't even lift an impact tool to maintain rolling stock doesn't really help your cause or the maintenance issue, now doesn't it? Face the facts sir, the problems start with the example you and your felow managers are setting, compounded by appointing personnel that are first off not suitable for the job, secondly have no experience, pride in their jobs or motivation, and that is by your own admission.

  • nonduplume - 2011-04-13 06:57

    It starts with Montana - how can the guys who destroyed the business rescue it? They appointed middle management and now call them incompetent? They should all be fired and people appointed who can do the job, not talk the talk and do nothing which is what cadre is all about.

  • Chris Lochner - 2011-10-12 19:36

    One can only hope that their security personnel will start to look after their rolling stock - AFTER HOURS - in particular. As a daily commuter I often see a newly refurbished coach within days vandalized.

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