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Prasa cancels press conference at last minute

The rail agency says that after consultation with government, there was a sudden change of plan.

FILE: Prasa took journalists aboard the new trains it purchased from a Spanish manufacturer to prove that they comply with standards on 13 July, 2015. Picture: Kgotatso Mogale/EWN.

PRETORIA - The media briefing by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to address the early departure of its CEO Lucky Montana was cancelled at the last minute in Pretoria today.

The boardroom at Prasa's headquarters in Pretoria was filled with more than two dozen reporters, ready for the much-anticipated briefing from board chairman Popo Molefe.

The rail agency was expected to provide clarity on the Montana matter.

On Thursday, Molefe said Montana would leave immediately rather than at the end of November as planned.

Molefe insisted this had nothing to do with the current debate around whether newly bought Spanish locomotives, worth R600 million, were too tall for the country's railways.

But the agency's Sipho Sithole announced that after consultation with government, there had been a sudden change of plan.

"The statement that was issued yesterday (Thursday) is sufficient enough, so until further notice, we'll not be able to proceed with this press conference."

Meanwhile, Montana is scheduled to brief the media this afternoon.

Prasa on Monday welcomed journalists aboard the new trains it purchased from a Spanish manufacturer to prove they complied with standards.

It had been reported that the rail agency's own engineers warned the 13 trains purchased at a cost of R600 million were too tall for local rail lines.

But the rail agency reportedly went ahead with the transaction, despite the manufacturer informing them they could not adjust the height of the trains.