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Eskom shouldn't have cut Prasa’s power in CT - Parly transport committee chair

Parliament’s transport portfolio committee chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane said it was unfortunate to involve ordinary people in matters they knew nothing about.

Commuters are standing outside the Cape Town train station on 27 February 2020 after services were suspended due electricity non-payment to Eskom. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – Parliament’s transport portfolio committee chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane said the Western Cape rail system’s power should not have been cut by Eskom on Thursday.

Zwane said it was unfortunate to involve ordinary people in matters they knew nothing about.

Tens of thousands of Metrorail train commuters were left stranded on Thursday for hours at platforms when Eskom cut power to Cape Town’s entire rail network. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) failed to settle its electricity bill with the power utility.

Power was eventually restored after the rail operator paid up.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula apologised to Western Cape train commuters after the service was suspended.

Mbalula on Thursday night addressed media at Cape Town train station, saying they met with Treasury not only to demonstrate the importance of allowing Prasa to retain the current baseline allocation but to also convert a portion of the capital budget to alleviate the operational budget challenges.

"I've explained that this is a broken place that we are reconstructing. So it's not a place that is easy. It's not like when the lights go off and we can't explain. I'm a minister and I've got to explain. I'm responsible for Prasa," he said.

Additional reporting by Kevin Brandt.