Approval of Gautrain expansion ‘imminent’

Gautrain expansion

The National Transport Department was “almost about to approve” plans to expand and link up the Gautrain Hatfield Station in Pretoria with Lanseria Airport and through Randburg to link up with Soweto and the Johannesburg business district.

Dikgang Moiloa, the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, confirmed this on Friday during a briefing to outline plans for the multibillion-rand strategic infrastructure project 7 (SIP7), now chaired by Human Settlements Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo.

“This is part of the effort to ensure we integrate infrastructure with human settlements so that we get economies of scale and more benefits for society that has been marginalised in the past,” he said.

Moiloa said the Gautrain rapid rail project was a partnership between the government and the private sector but largely from the private sector and one of the greatest interventions the country did in the past 10 years.

“Of course, the state will always play a role in terms of subsidising the early days of the operation of the trains in terms of this partnership. But over time the train will run by itself,” he said.

Jack van der Merwe, the chief executive of the Gautrain Management Agency, said in May that they had done an integrated transport master plan for the next 25 years and identified rail as the backbone of the plan.

Van der Merwe said a route had been identified from Mamelodi in Pretoria to Jabulani in Soweto and then from Lanseria into Randburg and Sandton and then to Boksburg.

This new 150km line plus another 19 stations had been registered with National Treasury as a public private partnership (PPP) and they had applied to National Treasury for authorisation that would indicate the funds were available, he said.

Van der Merwe said the Gautrain expansion programme would probably take 20 years to fully roll out but, depending on the allocation of funding, they could be building in three to five years.

Mbulelo Tshangana, the director-general of human settlements, said on Friday that they had 50 catalytic projects countrywide and 51 privately-led catalytic projects, which were all at various stages of implementation.

Moiloa said Gauteng had a total of 31 catalytic projects and 16 of them had “taken off” with seven under construction, with R60bn required for infrastructure in Gauteng alone.

He said there were massive human settlement programmes which included Fleurhof, Savanna City, John Dube and Riverside Park.

“These are complete new cities that will yield between 10000 and 15000 households. Transport nodes are critical for interlinkages.

“The R60bn is coming from the private sector, which was their role in the construction of the new cities programme, including SIP7,” he said.

Kam Chetty, the chairperson of the SIP7 steering committee, said SIP7 was to drive investment that promoted urbanisation and the connected nature of urbanisation, which was public transport and other infrastructure investment.

Chetty said the meeting of MECs and mayors on Friday was a renewed commitment to get SIP7 off the ground.

Mfeketo said it was the first meeting “after many years”, adding the last meeting took place in 2014.

Tshangana said SIP7 used to be co-ordinated by the Department of Transport, with the Passenger Rail Agency providing administrative support, but because of “inactivity in that department” a decision was taken in 2016 to transfer SIP7 to the Department of Human Settlements.

He stressed the lack of SIP7 meetings did not mean at project level nothing had been happening.

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