The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) 2016-2017 report was released late, almost a year to the day. In August I made public a leaked version of it. It is clear that the officially released version of this report has been doctored as there are differences between the two versions.
The official version indicates that Prasa losses increased from R533m in 2015-2016 to R927m in 2016-2017 despite an increase in the operational subsidy from R4.9bn to R5.2bn. The so-called "new dawn" is not taking place at Prasa. It is more of an "old dusk" as this transport agency continues to bleed taxpayers’ money.
Operating expenses increased by R1.3bn (that’s 15%) while revenue decreased by R392m (12%). According to the report, the increase in the operating expenses was due to a liability of R635m for a National Transport Movement ruling by the Labour Appeal Court. However, even subtracting that judgment, operating expenses went up R765m.
At the same time Prasa spent only R6.7bn of its allocated R13.8bn for capital expenditure – that’s only 48%.This is money that could have been used to significantly improve infrastructure and service delivery. The irregular expenditure during this period was R4.9bn — more of that old dusk.
Metrorail passenger trips in this period decreased from 448-million in 2015-16 to 370-million in 2016-17. Passenger injuries and fatalities went up from 4.7 passengers per million to 5.4. Rail-related crime incidents also went up from 2,737 in 2015-16 to 3,591 in 2016-17.
Just as in the leaked version of this report, the official report confirms there is uncertainty as to the ability of Prasa to continue as a going concern.
Prasa is not in a good place and its board and management appear to lack the understanding that their mandate is rail transport, the transport mode that is supposed to be the backbone of our public transport system.
I will be asking the minister questions about the discrepancies in the reports and what he plans to do about putting Prasa in a better position.
Manny de Freitas
MP Via e-mail