A loading crane straddles a freight rail track at Transnet's container handling terminal at City Deep inland port in Johannesburg. Picture: BLOOMBERG
A loading crane straddles a freight rail track at Transnet's container handling terminal at City Deep inland port in Johannesburg. Picture: BLOOMBERG

Minister of Transport Joe Maswanganyi told reporters in Pretoria on Friday that he was mediating the impasse between the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) and rail operators, including fellow transport entities the Passenger Rail Agency SA (Prasa) and Transnet.

During their annual performance plan briefing with Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport, the regulator said its tenuous relationships with other state organisations made it difficult for them to set and keep sustainable targets in their annual performance plans.

Many railway operators, some of which are parastatals, are disaffected with the role of the regulator, claiming its operating charges and penalties — the RSR’s main source of revenue — are the only reason the regulator engages with rail operators.

Prasa has approached the department as well as the portfolio committee, seeking a change to the operating fees the agency is expected to pay to the RSR, saying that the current dispensation is exploitative.

The two entities briefed the committee following Tuesday’s meeting at which the auditor-general told the committee the entities could not establish reliable targets for the realisation of the performance mandates.

RSR CEO Nkululeko Poya told the committee that the regulator’s model only allows it to generate revenue through permit fees. This resulted in the RSR bumping heads with paying operators, including Prasa and Transnet.

During a briefing to announce the performance of transport entities for the 2015-16 financial year, Maswanganyi said he had already met with the rail regulator, as well as all rail operators which fall under a government portfolio, and discussions to smooth the tensions and seek a solution are at an advanced stage.

"I have met the RSR with Prasa and Transnet and Gautrain. We have since dealt with some of the challenges," Maswanganyi said. "The responsibility of the RSR is to regulate rail operators. We are doing everything to support the RSR to do its work efficiently."

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