Relief and concern greet new Prasa board


Relief and concern greet new Prasa board

Sipho Manena | 2017-03-13 17:54:03.0

Popo Molefe. File photo.

Image by: Gallo Images / Beeld / Lisa Hnatowicz

The announcement of the new Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) interim board has been met with both relief and concern‚ with trade union SA Transport and Allied Workers Union saying the announcement was what it had hoped for.

The trade union has been critical of the dissolved board chaired by Popo Molefe‚ decrying the bankruptcy of the agency‚ the turnover rate of CEOs as well as the spike in train delays and accidents under its watch.

General-Secretary‚ Zenzo Mahlangu‚ said interim chairperson and former SA National Roads Agency boss Nazir Ali was an experienced manager and was expected to instil a sense of sound cooperate governance to the embattled agency.

He said other board members like former General-Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers‚ Frans Baleni‚ and Xolile George‚ were people they had interacted with before and were sure to turn Prasa around.

“It is a better composition than that of the previous board. These are people who are suitable in ensuring that critical issues of outdated and crumbling infrastructure are addressed‚” Mahlangu said.

He said the train delays and accidents were caused by the crumbling infrastructure‚ adding that state owned entities were supposed to be economic spin-offs not “the current situation where Prasa is running on subsidies instead of revenue collection”.

The DA is however not convinced by transport minister Dipuo Peters’ appointment of Ali as board chairperson and the party is also sceptical of the minister’s motivations for announcing the interim board.

DA MP and Shadow Minister of Transport‚ Manny de Freitas‚ said of concern was the fact that Peters had seen fit to appoint Ali‚ “the man who spent billions of taxpayers’ money on e-tolls in Gauteng‚ as the interim Chairperson of the board”.

He said two other members‚ the CEO of the South African Local Government Association‚ Xolile George‚ and Peters’ former spokesperson‚ Tiyani Rikhotsoseem‚ seemed to be firmly aligned with President Jacob Zuma.

“Last week‚ Peters dissolved the board which the DA held to be too little‚ too late given the prolonged crisis at the entity and speculation is rife that Peters only did this to avoid accountability for allowing the entity to be mismanaged‚” he said.

The dissolution of the board came after a public spat between the board and then acting Prasa CEO Collins Letsoalo‚ following a suspicious 350% salary hike for Letsoalo which the board said it had not approved.

The board promptly fired Letsoalo and have called for the department of transport ot investigate his actions as he remains a department of transport employee.

De Freitas said the DA would seek confirmation that all investigations currently underway‚ including the investigation into over R1 billion in irregular payments in the current financial year‚ would continue.

TMG Digital/The Times

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