NOT A TRAIN SMASH?
AFRO 4000. It’s a proud-sounding name. The sort of thing that sounds like it should be celebrated. Shouted out loud.
And we did.
At PM, we celebrate the artists, the craftsmen, the innovators, the engineers and all those creative souls who fashion our built world. We salute their imagination and their sometimes dogged single-mindedness.
Supertrains, our May cover story, was a natural outflow of that.
So it comes as a blow to the gut to learn that things are not what they seem. at people are not what they seem.
Fact: the Passenger Rail Agency acquired world-class locomotives, adapted to local requirements and compliant with a set standard. Unfortunately, that standard just happens to be at odds with current accepted practice and is further compromised anyway – dangerously so – by poor maintenance, underlying drooping power-lines.
You may well quibble about the acquisitions not being made locally, about the price paid, or about the operating arrangements. I’m not so much angry, as deeply disappointed.
I am disappointed at myself, in a perverse way. But mainly I am disappointed at the short-sightedness on display, where there should be vision. The thing about visionaries is that they see a different, bigger picture that can take us, ultimately, forward. It can be hard. At times, yes, it may seem like they hold our feet to the fire. But they don’t sacrifice our goodwill on the altar of self-gain or crush it by deceit.
So we have a right to be not just disappointed, but angry.
Without all the facts at our disposal, it’s too early to make definitive judgements, but we certainly can make snap judgements. A prima facie case, if you will. The signs point to malfeasance – at best, to hubris.
I don’t much care that the recently departed Rail Agency Chief Engineer may or may not be a doctor, an engineer or in fact may or may not be someone named Daniel Mtimkulu.
What I care much more about is the South African public being taken for a ride in all the wrong kinds of ways.
There is nothing to celebrate about that.