Transport Minister Jeff Radebe on Wednesday asserted that the first phase of the Gautrain rapid-rail project would be completed before South Africa hosts the soccer World Cup, as well as on budget.

This came after a significant shareholder in the consortium building the project said last month that there was no part in the R25-billion contract that stipulated any part of the project would have to be completed in time for the sporting event.

Murray & Roberts executive director Sean Flanagan said at the time that the Gauteng provincial government would have to pay extra should it wish to have the first phase of the Gautrain rapid-rail project completed in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Bombela has been contracted to complete the first phase of the 80-km project in 45 months, which makes the completion date July 2010, by when the World Cup would be over.

However, Radebe told reporters in Pretoria that the contract had been signed for the project to be ready to ride by early June 2010.

“Contrary to what you have heard, by 2010, before we host the World Cup, the link between Park Station, Sandton, and Oliver Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) will be complete,” he said.

“So when you land at ORTIA at the beginning of June 2010, you will be able to get onto the Gautrain, and 12 minutes later be alighting in Sandton or Rosebank,” affirmed Radebe. “There is no truth in the fact that we are still negotiating the contract.”

He stressed that the government had signed the deal and “knows how much it is going to pay”.

Meanwhile, Flanagan said that government would have to renegotiate with the Bombela consortium, if it wanted the first phase of the project done before the soccer World Cup. At the time, he said that the project would have to be accelerated by two months to complete it in time for the event.

“This will cost money, as we would have to bring in additional resources,” Flanagan stated.

The Gautrain is a public-private partnership between the Gauteng provincial government and Bombela, a consortium consisting of international partners Bombardier and Bouygues, and local stakeholders Murray & Roberts, as well as black economic-empowerment company Strategic Partners Group.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Matthew Hill
DATED: 9th April 2008