Today's Labour News

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prasaSowetanLive writes that the lives of about two million train commuters around the country are being put at risk by staff shortages in key positions at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa).  

The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) said on Monday that Prasa's failure to fill vacant positions of train control section managers was mainly to blame for a series of train accidents over the past few months.  It is seeking to ground all trains due to safety concerns.  Train control officers are supposed to have a section manager to verify and supervise all their calls.  The RSR’s Madelein Williams said on Monday that it was one of the "special conditions" imposed when they issued a one-year safety permit to Prasa last month.  Williams indicated:  "Prasa has failed to appoint section managers to ensure there's countersigning when manual train authorisations were issued and this led to last week's accident (at Kempton Park station).  Due to non-filling of safety-critical positions, they [Prasa] couldn't ensure that they provided a second line of checking during manual train authorisations."  Williams said Prasa had relied on manual authorisations, which were also worryingly growing in number, without supervisors.  More than 1,200 commuters suffered injuries while 24 lost their lives in five train accidents since January - all happening during manual train authorisations.  Prasa has approached the High Court in an effort to get an urgent court order preventing the RSR from suspending its safety permit and grounding all passenger trains.  Meanwhile, transport minister Blade Nzimande called a meeting for Tuesday with the chairs of the RSR and Prasa boards in an effort to avert a court showdown scheduled for Thursday.

  • Read this report by Isaac Mahlangu in full at SowetanLive
  • Read too, Prasa gets regulator red card, at BusinessLive

Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page