A verification process has been completed and it was discovered that there are 3000 ‘ghost employees’ on the payroll at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA).

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula confirmed this and that a forensic investigation was now taking place to track these people down and recoup the money they were paid.

“Prasa initiated Project Ziveze aimed at physically verifying all Prasa employees, with the identification of 3 000 employees who could not be verified and whose salaries were frozen.” Fikile Mbalula.

He has vowed that action will be taken. Mablula said this is just the start of the investigation: “Since the freezing of salaries, more employees from those previously not verified came forward. A forensic investigation is currently underway on the possible ghost employees and how these found their way into the payroll of Prasa.”

This news comes a week after the Minister announced a range of interventions to address the financial, governance, and operational failures of Prasa in recent years. This included an R7.5 billion project to fix trains and internal investigations into staff implicated in the facilitation of questionable tenders.

Earlier this year, the City of Cape Town said PRASA also owes it millions in unpaid municipality bills. Mayoral Committee member for finance Siseko Mbandezi said PRASA’s overdue municipal bill at the City of Cape Town currently stands at R122.4 million. Mbandezi said the metro has already reported PRASA to the national treasury for the non-payment. Legal action and steps for debt collection are also being taken.

And on 26 July 2022, Metrorail Western Cape started its trial operations of recovering the Central line train service. Some commuters can again make use of limited services since the Central line was shut down at the end of 2019.  The trial operations of the limited service include the following lines:

• Bellville to Ysterplaat via Lavistown station,
• Cape Town to Langa via Pinelands station and
• Cape Town to Langa via Mutual station.

The re-introduced lines were closed in 2019 due to vandalism on the Central Line.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says efforts will be further intensified to repair and recover 10 of the country’s most important commuter rail corridors.

He says work would include the fixing and replacement of overhead cabling, signaling infrastructure, and electricity sub-stations.

Mbalula says train stations along these corridors will also be repaired and better maintained.

The Minister says the majority of these train services fell into disrepair when the initial level 5 lockdown was implemented in March of 2020.

Security at PRASA train stations will also see a major boost over the next few months to help protect rail infrastructure.

Mbalula says it would serve no purpose to spend millions of Rand to repair infrastructure, just to again have train stations burgled and vandalized.

He says security personnel will consist of PRASA employees and staff employed by private security companies.

Watch his full briefing here.

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