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RAILWAY SAFETY REGULATOR’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK

The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) closed its offices across the country in response to the 21-day lockdown pronounced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020. The RSR is, however, providing continued support to operators who are operational during this period. Staff members of the Regulator are working remotely and are accessible through e-mail correspondence and mobile phones.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, signed The Railway COVID19 Preventative Measures Directive on 25 March, stipulating that all operators should develop and implement COVID-19 Management Plans and submit the same to the Regulator within 72 hours of the date of publication. This Directive has a particular emphasis on operators who will be operating during the lockdown and prohibits operations by all private operators, unless if classified as an essential service.

To date, the Regulator has received some Management Plans and will closely monitor the implementation of these plans. If deemed necessary, the Regulator will conduct onsite verifications for compliance with the requirements of the Directive. This Directive has a particular emphasis on operators who will be operating during the lockdown.

Railway operators functioning during the lockdown are expected to continue reporting railway safety occurrences to the Regulator as stipulated in Section 37 of the RSR Act. The Regulator’s Contact Centre remains operational to receive such reports – all major occurrences must be reported immediately for the Regulator to dispatch its Inspectorate to occurrence sites where onsite investigations are required.