Nothing that has been said above changes the fact that these trains have been running for years albeit with more failures than predicted. Even while the studies and discussions referred to above occurred.
Now in the middle of a pandemic. Yes it is still a pandemic. And yes people are still contacting the virus even in SA. And yes people are still dying because of it. The trains are withdrawn en masse.
Its a decision that doesn't make any sense from an engineering. economic or public health perspective.
Maybe I am simplistic.
Isn't the issue that the other units are in danger of cooking their engines?
If so, it makes sense to withdraw them.
Poorly managed, yes. Poor timing, yes. Embarrassing, yes.
No one that is accountable is to allow units to run if they now know of an issue and puts those assets at risk of causing further damage.
Yes COVID19 is not over. But you do not pause normal decision making to suit a crisis.
In emergency management, decisions on safety and environment are not suspended. Those risks must be assessed. If an unfortunate consequence is that a normal operation ceases then you would try to provide an alternative. In this case it may mean bus substitutes at a higher frequency than normally would to address the COVD19 risks that you are saying.
The owners of the units have decided to withdraw the units, will be held to account later if that was the right decision or not. They all have a boss in the end.