Bombela Concession Company CEO Jerome Govender on Wednesday confirmed that “opening the Gautrain in time for the FIFA World Cup in June 2010 is currently not a contractual requirement on Bombela”.

Phase one is only scheduled for completion at the end of June 2010, with the kick-off for the global sports event on June 11.

However, Govender noted that Bombela, responsible for the construction of the R25,4-billion rail project, had “at the request of the Gauteng Provincial Government, prepared and submitted, on July 13, an acceleration proposal aimed at achieving operational commencement for the OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) to Sandton phase of the project by May 27, 2010.

“We have not yet had a response to our proposal and welcome discussion with government to progress this important matter.”

Govender’s response came as Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) CEO and Gauteng government Gautrain project leader Jack van der Merwe said on Tuesday that government would decide in mid-October whether it would fork out additional funds to have phase one of the project ready for the World Cup.

“We will also have to decide whether it is worth the money and, if so, where we will find the money.”

Van der Merwe told Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport that GMA would not pay an “unreasonable amount” to the Bombela consortium to accelerate the project for a four-week-long event.

“It was never said that this was a soccer project. This train has to run for another 100 years. You cannot spend this kind of money on a four-week event,” news agency Sapa quoted Van der Merwe as saying.

The Gautrain project was announced in January 2000. South Africa was awarded the World Cup in April 2004.

Van der Merwe said 125 buses would be ready to transport passengers from the airport to their hotels should the train not be ready in time.

Phase two of the Gautrain project was scheduled for completion in March 2011, ultimately linking Johannesburg, Tshwane and ORTIA.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Irma Venter
DATED: 26th August 2009