Pretoria – The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has reserved R20 million to assist the Tshwane and Soweto train accident victims.
Prasa group chief executive officer, Lucky Montana, told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday that this would be a once-off payment to the victims outside lawyer and attorney representation.
Montana said the assistance will be over and above the payment of hospital bills and will be aimed only at provable train accident cases for both the Soweto and Tshwane accidents.
Last month on the Mabopane route, two trains enroute to Pretoria collided, leaving one dead and scores injured.
Another train crash occurred last Thursday. A Metrorail train, which was travelling from Mzimhlophe Station towards Phomolong station in Orlando, collided with a stationary Soweto Business Express train, injuring 857 people. No fatalities have been reported.
According to Montana, Prasa is already in the process of setting up walk-in offices for the train accident victims at the Johannesburg Park Station and Orlando Station, with the Tshwane station walk-in office already open.
He said all train accident victims will be able to collect their financial assistance in person or send a family member with all the relevant details as proof of their involvement in the accident, including their daily, weekly and monthly tickets.
However, Montana said no payments would be made to those who will visit the walk-in offices with fraudulent train tickets.
“We are introducing a commuter insurance cover, based on a no-fault system to all valid train ticket holders injured or killed in train accidents to ensure speedy assistance to passengers,” he said.
CEO of the Rail Division at Metrorail, Mosenngwa Mofi, said following the two train accidents, an extraordinary meeting to review and evaluate safety measures within Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl was convened last Saturday.
He said part of the safety measures agreed upon include the introduction of a compulsory stop at all train signals, previously treated as cautionary signals, where drivers could proceed with caution after a three-minute wait.
“The new rule will now compel drivers to stop and get authorisation before proceeding. A review of current driver training programme to find a balance between route knowledge and the technical aspects of train driving,” he said.
Mofi said before qualifying as a train driver, recruits must first become Metro guards or have extensive knowledge of the rail operating environment.
He further said all drivers who have violated safety rules, such as speeding and passing signals at danger in the past three to six months, will be withdrawn from service and undergo refresher training programmes.
Mofi said they are also intending to embark on a recruitment drive of a selected number of retired train drivers on a short- term basis as mentors to newer train drivers. – Nthambeleni Gabara, BuaNews