South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) welcomes the suspension of Richard Walker, Western Cape Regional Manager at Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
On Tuesday Prasa announced Walker had been placed on paid leave and Raymond Maseko would act in the position henceforth. SATAWU had been calling for Walker’s suspension following the auditor-general’s 2016/17 report.
SATAWU officials in the Western Cape opened a criminal case against Walker at the time, listing no less than 37 charges after the Prasa board and management neglected to investigate the allegations leveled against him. The charges included corruption, contravention of the Public Finance Management Act plus fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Walker was also said to have flouted supply chain management procedures by appointing security providers between April and July 2016 without the approval of the group CEO.
However, more worrying was the deterioration of the commuter services in the region. To date the Central Line is not operational despite the multitudes that depend on it for their daily commute. SATAWU was most concerned about Walker’s failure to develop crime prevention strategies to halt vandalism of the infrastructure including cable theft and the burning of trains.
SATAWU appreciates the rail agency’s Administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo’s decisive action. We look forward to working together with Maseko in collaboration with the police and communities to identify crime hot spots and devise effective solutions for the overall improvement of the commuter service.