The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is again under the spotlight after it emerged that one of its controversial Afro4000 locomotives derailed at Modderrivier in the Northern Cape.
The accident occurred shortly before midnight on Tuesday, according to Netwerk24, with no fatalities reported so far.
The locomotive was believed to be carrying 12 passenger carts.
Prasa’s head of engineering services Daniel Mthimkhulu appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s court at the end of last month on a charge of fraud and uttering relating to his qualification.
Mthimkhulu’s qualification became an issue following a report in Afrikaans language newspaper, Rapport, that new trains ordered by the country from Spain were too high for South African rail infrastructure.
He has since resigned from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, while Prasa also finds itself without a CEO following the dismissal of Lucky Montana’s from the state-owned entity, amid a tender probe.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela will on Monday (24 August 2015) release her report on an investigation into allegations of maladministration relating to financial mismanagement, tender irregularities and appointment irregularities against Prasa.
The Rapport newspaper reported that Prasa’s own engineers warned that the Afro 4000 locomotives are too high and should be lowered.
The newspaper said that Prasa wanted to lower the height of the diesel locomotives from well over 4 metres to 3.965 metres.
The reason that the current height of 4.14 metres is seen as dangerous is because they will come very close to the height of poorly maintained overhead power lines.
However, Vossloh Espana, the manufacturer of the trains, said that lowering the height was not possible at such a late stage.
Thirteen Afro 4000 diesel locomotives have so far been delivered to Prasa, worth R600 million and form part of a larger R3.5 billion order for 70 new locomotives.