Will the Gautrain be late?

”An awful lot” needs to be done before mid-December when financial closure is expected to be reached between stakeholders of the Gautrain project, local construction partner Murray & Roberts (M&R) said on Tuesday.

The executive director and legal adviser to the company, Arnold Miller, said there was nonetheless no reason to suppose that financial closure could not be reached between the government and the Bombela Consortium, of which M&R is a member.

”It’s a very complicated process and the reality is that there is an awful lot to do between now and mid-December. We are working flat out to achieve that and we would not be doing this if it were not possible.”

A news report on Tuesday indicating that the Bombela consortium was under no legal obligation to complete the Gautrain before the 2010 World Cup came from a report to M&R shareholders and was ”unfortunate”, said Miller.

The Bombela consortium was chosen as the preferred bidder for the Gautrain project on July 2.

He said there had been a much-spoken about ”moral contract” to have the line complete by 2010 but at this stage no contract had been signed and negotiations were still under way.

”Our commitment is to complete it 54 months from the start. When we start depends on whether this financial closure is done on time,” said Miller.

Meanwhile Gautrain project leader Jack van der Merwe said he was amazed at M&R’s comments.

”We are still negotiating the final contract. Gautrain is puzzled and concerned,” said spokesperson Barbara Jansen.

She acknowledged that M&R’s comments were based on a report to shareholders and were not on behalf of the Bombela consortium.

On Tuesday morning Van der Merwe was scheduled to brief Parliament’s transport portfolio committee on the project. – Sapa

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