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PRASA operations to resume under lockdown Level 3

7th May 2020

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA’s) operations are set to resume under Lockdown Alert Level 3, administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo confirmed in a webinar on May 7.

The passenger rail agency terminated all services during the initial lockdown period (Level 5), and has continued to do so in Level 4 in line with regulations and recommendations set out by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the government.

While the global humanitarian crisis has had far-reaching implications on the organisation, as well as other entities and individuals, Mpondo lamented the overall negative impact on PRASA's planned project timelines and capital intervention programmes, as well as priority corridors.

There has also been no construction activity, aside from essential or emergency works, that have taken place during this period.

As such, PRASA’s active projects are to be extended and planned critical maintenance work has also been severely impacted owing to the continued shortage of required commodities, and the closure of key suppliers and service providers.

Owing to lockdown, especially the period of April to end of May, PRASA is set to experience further cash constraints on its already strained financial situation, with the total estimated revenue loss for the year projected to be R757-million.

However, Mpondo warned that this figure could change depending on how the Covid-19 situation develops.

During the webinar, he gave insight into the precautions taken by the agency to limit community transmission and outbreaks when operations resume, and said that screening and testing at railway stations (in collaboration with the Department of Health) will take place once operations resume.

Crowd management and physical distancing will also be practiced, with clear commuter use protocols (such as the wearing of masks and no eating or drinking on trains), while sanitation booths are in the process of being sourced for super-core and core stations, large depots and offices to handle mass numbers.

A deep cleaning and disinfection programme has also begun for depots and stations, and train disinfections have started – all trains will also be disinfected after every trip. PRASA will also undertake continuous announcements and communication of hygiene measures, running simulations ahead of restarting operations to ensure teams are familiar with the handling of crowds at stations and on trains.

Weekly inspections of trains will also be undertaken, and theft and vandalism activity will continue to be monitored.

Taking all of this into account, Mpondo said the agency had developed a maintenance schedule for the resumption of service.

“We are considering a corridor by corridor resumption,” he told the media, but noted that this would be subject to future discussions with Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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